Proof of concept project

Tactile Sensing Capsule for treating Faecal Incontinence

  • Date Published

    March 2016

  • Principal Investigator

    Dr Sanja Dogramadzi, Bristol Robotics Lab

  • Co-Investigators

    Mr Benjamin Winstone, University of West of England


Tactile Sensing Capsule complements the Imperial College London’s work on modelling the physiology of faecal incontinence by investigating the use of a sensing capsule developed by Bristol Robotics Lab in 2012.

The Lab will explore whether this device, which has a 360 degree sensing capacity, could be used in the treatment of faecal incontinence to provide a more comprehensive set of recordings of muscular contractions in the rectum compared to current methods. The work will involve developing software to identify the different types of contraction that occur in the rectum in the process of defecation and will help to advance current diagnostic practices.

1. Build a rectum laboratory phantom – (Leeds)

A test environment will be created to simulate the rectal function. A scaled simulation rig suitable to test the sensor will be built by the team at Leeds University.

2. Establish the laboratory phantom characteristics – (Joint experiment)

A full range of contraction capabilities will be measured using commercial sensors to establish the ground truth. Leading up to a final integration experiment, Leeds will characterize their simulation rig.

3. Test the Sensing Capsule on the phantom – (Joint experiment)

The contractions will be evaluated using the Sensing Capsule and comparing with the forces measured in task 2 to create a calibration algorithm. This will be achieved at a final integration day in the Leeds laboratory.

4. Further improvement and testing of the sensing algorithm – (BRL)

After task 3 has identified the relationship between forces and the deformation of the sensing capsule, further testing is required to identify other sensor’s characteristics such as identification of non-uniform contractions.

5. Real time sensing data display – (BRL)

A software interface that shows real time information of the sensing capsule readings will be developed in collaboration with a specialist nurse.


  • Establish suitability of the Sensing Capsule for recording rectum muscular contractions.
  • Develop algorithm to characterise different contraction strengths and contraction types
  • Present the sensed data in different formats.


  • Design and build a laboratory phantom to simulate rectum contractions
  • Characterise/measure rectum contractions using commercial pressure sensing devices
  • Compare measurements using tactile sensing capsule device
  • Develop software to distinguish between contraption types
  • Visualise real time interaction between the Sensing Capsule and the artificial rectum.

Incontinence Management & PRevention through Engineering and ScienceS