Moonwalk Haptic Feedback Prosthetic

The Moonwalk prosthetic provides haptic feedback via pressure sensitive surface and vibration motor.

According to Stanford product designer Akshay Dinakar, nearly 20 million people in the U.S. alone experience neuropathy, a condition that causes tingling and reduces sensations of touch to the affected areas. This of course can be problematic when walking, as this lack of feedback means that you don’t always know when your foot has contacted the ground.

Dinakar’s solution is an innovative prosthetic device that doesn’t act as a physical extension of your limb, so much as an extension of your sense of touch. The unit, dubbed "Moonwalk," uses a velostat surface that changes resistance under contact pressure, and passes this data along to a microcontroller. This chip/board then employs a haptic motor driver to actuate a vibration motor as needed to indicate when a surface has been struck.

The Moonwalk was originally envisioned for use on one’s foot, but the concept could be applied to any affected area as needed. The writeup, while it provides details of its operation, code, and even STLs for an electronics housing, is written in such a way that it could be implemented according to your individual needs. In fact, it notes that the Arduino Nano, Adafruit Flora, or Adafruit Feather are excellent control options. Since you’re reading this on Hackster, I’m sure you can think of several more—or perhaps even dig them up out of your parts bin!

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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