Sensor System Simulates Body Pressure

Sensor Products has donated its Tactilus body mapping pressure system to The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, for an exhibition that involves simulating pressure points. The 'Under Pressure' exhibit is being shown at schools and libraries until the museum opens next year. It demonstrates how pressure between the body and a contacting object - such as a chair - can create pressure points and strain.

Joe Andrade, the exhibit developer and a professor of bio-engineering at the University of Utah, integrated it into a portable kiosk that teaches children and adults about surface-pressure body mapping. In pressure body mapping, sensors collect data from the force exerted by the human body as it touches another surface. This data is then converted into colour-coded body maps that correspond to different degrees of pressure.

Using this knowledge, designers and engineers modify products to produce more even distributions of pressure on the human body. By taking the load off areas with red hot spots, the locations of greatest pressure, products can become more comfortable, ergonomic and efficient. According to Sensor Products, its body mapping systems have been used to create customised mattresses and to allow golfers to change their swing after seeing how the force of their moving feet affects their shift and balance.

Pressure body mapping can help engineers to develop products that are not only more ergonomic but also less expensive to produce. A toothpaste manufacturer recently enlisted Sensor Products to help develop tubes that dispensed toothpaste within certain force parameters, but were of less costly material construction. The client assembled a focus group to test different types of prototype packaging with Tactilus and asked the test subjects to squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube.

The pressure to squeeze was measured along the tube, with the common practice of rolling the tube up to exact every ounce of toothpaste also profiled. The project established real quantitative as well as qualitative measurement of squeezing effort. This created a baseline that packaging engineers could use in the future to precisely measure and improve product standards.


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