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Class of 2023
Biology – Physics
Cam Brochu (he/him) is a Biophysics major expecting to graduate St. Lawrence University in spring 2023. Upon graduation, he intends to enter the field of prosthetic research and design prosthetics that feel and function more like human body parts. Through the SLU fellows program, Brochu developed a low cost temperature...


Sponsoring Department

Currently most general consumer prosthetics are basic devices with limited functionality and while sophisticated prosthetics with advanced motion and sensation do exist, they are at a price point out of reach for the general consumer. While there are groups working on increasing the motion and sensation capabilities of prosthetics, often there is not a focus on developing them at low price points and thus they are too expensive for the general consumer. That’s where my research comes in.

During my 8-week fellowship I utilized an Arduino and low-cost electronic components to develop a temperature sensing and feedback system that could be integrated into a glove, or another similar external wrapping, and be put over any existing prosthetic device. The system senses the temperature of anything the prosthetic touches and relays the information though a small ceramic plate that heats and cools to match the sensed temperature. This allows the user to feel the temperature of what the prosthetic touches, mimicking human feedback systems. By using low-cost Arduino materials and a gloved design my system can be used with any existing prosthetic device of any price point for under $100 in material costs. The biggest drawback to using low-cost materials is that the response time between being exposed to the stimuli and receiving the feedback is inflated due to their physical limitations that higher cost components don’t have. This led to an initial system response time of approximately 250 seconds from touching a stimulus to the full feedback to the user and though testing various components that response time was reduced to approximately 35 seconds on average for the greatest temperature change with immediate feedback provided in less than 10 seconds. While this is still significantly slower than our body’s natural response time this indicates that low-cost materials can be used to make temperature sensing systems. I will continue my research into my senior year to expand on the temperature sensing by adding a touch sensation system to the same circuit.