2, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, , Italy
3, University of Bologna, Bologna, , Italy
In the field of safety at work, there is the need to develop a system able to monitor the activity of manual workers, in order to prevent serious hands’ injuries during the working activity. In parallel, athletes that use repetitive movements of the hands, i.e. tennis players, may benefit of a technology able to record non-invasively hand motion in real time in order to improve their athletic performance and prevent accidents. Indeed, uncomfortable positions, high force stress, prolonged repetitions or combination of these elements, are risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders.
Actually, the most common methods used to identify the risks’ activities, are based mainly on empirical observations, supported by subjective evaluation or trough video analysis. However, the video method results often complicate and difficult to be interpret. In this context, the recent development of wearable sensor systems for healthcare applications give rise to an innovative alternative. Focusing the attention on the hand injuries, sensors pressure implemented directly on gloves are a promising technology in continuous development.
The main constrain for the proposed applications is to fabricate gloves that can be easily worn, that is imperceptible and does not alter or hinder the normal activity of the hands by worker or athletes. In addition, the pressure sensors have to be opportunely tuned to guarantee high sensitivity in a wide pressure range, to account for all the different hand’s activities.
In this contribution, we report a new generation of textile pressure sensors based on PEDOT:PSS fabricated by screen printing directly on gloves for monitoring hand activity. The architecture and sensor design ensure lightway, robust, thin and non -invasive gloves, which, once worn, do not affect the normal mobility of hands.
Moreover, we carried out a detailed investigation on the PEDOT:PSS piezoelectric behavior and on the working principles of the developed textile pressure sensors, and we demonstrate the ability to tune the operating pressure range simply by changing the conductive ink formulations, leaving the same architecture and structures. The here proposed tunable sensorized gloves pave the way for a new generation of smart textiles in a field, such as the safety in work place, that is in continuous increase of interest.