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1. WO2021144572 - STRETCHABLE SENSOR

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[ EN ]

CLAIMS

1. A stretchable sensor system for measuring deformation of an elastomer, the stretchable sensor system comprising:

at least one magnet;

at least one magnetic sensor, each having a sensor output; and

a controller,

wherein the at least one magnet is/are fixed to the elastomer at a respective first location or plurality of locations and the at least one magnetic sensor is/are fixed to the elastomer at a respective second location or plurality of locations, such that the or each magnetic sensor is located in magnetic proximity to a respective said magnet, and wherein the controller is operable:

to receive sensor data from the sensor output of the or each magnetic sensor; to process the received sensor data in dependence on the first and second locations or plurality of locations to determine a positional relationship between the or each magnet and the respective magnetic sensor; and

to compute a deformation of the elastomer in dependence on the determined positional relationship between the or each magnet and the respective magnetic sensor.

2. A stretchable sensor system according to Claim 1, comprising a plurality of magnets fixed to the elastomer at a respective first plurality of locations and a plurality of magnetic sensors fixed to the elastomer at a respective second plurality of locations.

3. A stretchable sensor system according to Claim 1 or Claim 2, wherein the magnetic sensor is a Hall Effect sensor.

4. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein the magnets are permanent magnets.

5. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein there are a number of degrees of freedom of the elastomer that are desired to be measured, and the first plurality and second plurality of locations are selected so as to allow a measurement of all said degrees of freedom.

6. A stretchable sensor system according to Claim 5, wherein the number of magnets is equal to the number of degrees of freedom that are desired to be measured.

7. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein the positional relationship is the distance between each magnet and the respective magnetic sensor.

8. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein the sensor output of each magnetic sensor is substantially indicative of the distance to the respective magnet.

9. A stretchable sensor system according to any one of Claims 2 to 8, wherein at least two of the plurality of magnets and magnetic sensors are oriented along the same axis.

10. A stretchable sensor system according to Claim 9, wherein said at least two of the plurality of magnets and magnetic sensors measure a deformation about a different axis of the elastomer.

11. A stretchable sensor system according to any one of Claims 2 to 10, wherein at least two of the plurality of magnets and magnetic sensors are oriented along different axes.

12. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein each magnetic sensor is positioned such that the magnetic field strength at the sensor originating from the respective magnet is greater than the combined magnetic field strength originating from all of the other magnets.

13. A stretchable sensor system according to any preceding claim, wherein the controller is further operable to compute at least one force applied to the elastomer in dependence on the computed deformation of the elastomer.

14. A control system for controlling an elastomer, the control system comprising:

an elastomer;

a stretchable sensor system as claimed in any of Claims 1 to 13, attached to the elastomer;

at least one actuator for causing deformation of the elastomer;

an input for inputting a desired deformation; and

a closed loop controller for carrying out closed loop control of the actuator based on the desired deformation and the output of the stretchable sensor system.

15. A control system according to Claim 14, wherein the closed loop controller is operable to control a position of a portion of the elastomer.

16. A method of measuring deformation of an elastomer, the elastomer including a at least one magnet and at least one magnetic sensor having a sensor output, the at least one magnet being fixed to the elastomer at a respective first location or plurality of locations and the at least one magnetic sensor being fixed to the elastomer at a respective second location or plurality of locations, such that the or each magnetic sensor is located in magnetic proximity to a respective said magnet, and the method comprising:

receiving sensor data from the sensor output of the or each magnetic sensor; processing the received sensor data in dependence on the first and second locations or plurality of locations to determine a positional relationship between the or each magnet and the respective magnetic sensor; and

computing a deformation of the elastomer in dependence on the determined positional relationship between the or each magnet and the respective magnetic sensor.

17. A method as claimed in Claim 16, wherein the elastomer includes a plurality of magnets being fixed to the elastomer at a respective first plurality of locations and a plurality of magnetic sensors, being fixed to the elastomer at a respective second plurality of locations.

18. A controller for measuring deformation of an elastomer, the elastomer including at least one magnet and at least one magnetic sensor having a sensor output, the at least one magnet being fixed to the elastomer at a respective first location or plurality of locations and the at least one magnetic sensor being fixed to the elastomer at a respective second location or plurality of locations, such that the or each magnetic sensor is located in magnetic proximity to a respective said magnet, and the controller comprising a processor and associated memory, the memory storing computer program code which, when executed by the processor, causes it to carry out a method according to either one of Claim 16 and Claim 17.

19. A computer readable medium tangibly embodying computer program code which, when executed by a processor in communication with at least one magnetic sensor, fixed at a first respective location or plurality of locations on an elastomer, arranged in magnetic proximity to a respective at least one magnet, fixed at a second respective location or plurality of locations on the elastomer, causes the processor to carry out a method according to either one of Claim 16 and Claim 17.