Tactile Sensor Based on Microwave Transmission Line

Technology #18217

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Professor Jeffrey Lang
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
External Link (www.rle.mit.edu)
Matthew D'Asaro
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
External Link (www.rle.mit.edu)
Managed By
Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

Flexibe Transmission Line Pressure Sensor

PCT Patent Application Filed
Synthetic and Bio-Artificial Tactile Sensing: A Review
Sensors, 13 (2): 1435-66, Jan. 24, 2013
Building Bionic Skins
IEEE Spectrum, 50 (9):50-6, Sep. 28, 2013


  • Tactile sensors for robotic, healthcare and prosthetic applications
  • Human skin replicas for prosthetics
  • Touch-capture gloves for gaming, research and animation

Problem Addressed

Tactile sensors and skins are important areas of research in the prosthetics, robotics and healthcare industries due to the possibility of developing pressure ulcers while using prosthetics and the importance of the tactile sense in robotics and healthcare applications. A variety of technologies have been used including piezoresistive and capacitive sensors. However, they suffer from mechanical fragility, complex and expensive fabrication methods and the need for large numbers of connections to external electronics. Although considerable progress has been made with microelectronics integrated skins, they also suffer from fabrication complexity, expense and fragility problems.


The invention is a distributed tactile sensor which can measure the location and degree of pressure applied along its length. The resulting device is thin, flexible and stretchable, while being simple to fabricate and mechanically robust. In addition, the sensor only requires a single electrical connection to readout electronics in order to function optimally. The design can easily be adapted to measure shear force (force applied along a surface) and pressure over a fully 2D surface.


  • Thin, flexible and stretchable
  • Simple to fabricate, mechanically robust
  • Requires only one electrical connection to readout electronics