How to build and use a low-cost sensor glove

This post discusses how to develop a low cost sensor glove with tactile feedback using flex sensors and small vibration motors. MATLAB and JAVA code is linked.


  • Weber, Paul; Rueckert, Elmar; Calandra, Roberto; Peters, Jan; Beckerle, Philipp
    A Low-cost Sensor Glove with Vibrotactile Feedback and Multiple Finger Joint and Hand Motion Sensing for Human-Robot Interaction Inproceedings
    Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), 2016.
  • Rueckert, Elmar; Lioutikov, Rudolf; Calandra, Roberto; Schmidt, Marius; Beckerle, Philipp; Peters, Jan
    Low-cost Sensor Glove with Force Feedback for Learning from Demonstrations using Probabilistic Trajectory Representations
    Inproceedings ICRA 2015 Workshop on Tactile and force sensing for autonomous compliant intelligent robots2015


  • Arduino Mega 2560 Board
  • Check which USB device is used (e.g., by running dmesg). On most of our machines it is /dev/ttyACM0
  • Enable read/write permissions if necessary, e.g., run sudo chmod o+rw /dev/ttyACM0
  • Serial protocoll based communication: Flex sensor readings are streamed and Vibration motor PWM values can be set between 0 and 255
  • Firmware can be found here (follow the instructions in the README.txt to compile and upload the firmware)
  • Features frame rates of up to 350Hz
  • Five flex sensors provide continuous readings within the range [0, 1024]

Simple Matlab Serial Interface – max 100Hz

  • Download the Matlab demo code from here
  • Tell Matlab which serial ports to use: copy the java.opts file to your Matlab bin folder, e.g., to /usr/local/MATLAB/R2012a/bin/glnxa64/
  • Run FastComTest.m

Fast Mex-file based Matlab Interface – max 350Hz

  • Install libserial-dev
  • Download the code from here
  • Compile the mex function with: mex SensorGloveInterface.cpp -lserial
  • Run EventBasedSensorGloveDemo.m