A novel stiffness-sensing system was developed that works by attaching the proposed sensing part to endoscopes or cameras. The system provides a method to investigate the stiffness of tissues or objects in deep areas that can only be observed with endoscopes in order to detect abnormalities. The system is an extension of our previous force sensing system that utilized a force visualization mechanism. The force is visualized at the sensing part, and can be measured as visual information via endoscopes or cameras. The sensing part also has a limiting structure used as a threshold for the applied force. By measuring the force at the limitation, the stiffness can be measured. The limitation point is detected by the brightness changes of the captured images. The developed sensing part has the advantages of having no electronic components, being disposable, simple, easy to sterilize, MRI-compatible, and low-cost. Image processing methods for realizing the mechanism are also proposed. The system was experimentally validated.
Tetsuyou Watanabe, Takanobu Iwai, Toshio Koyama, and Takeshi Yoneyama, Stiffness Measurement System Using Endoscopes with a Visualization Method, IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 15, pp. 5889 – 5897, 2016. doi:10.1109/JSEN.2016.2574322
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