Shape Sensing

Fiber optic shape sensing: making the invisible tangible in critical applications.

Fiber optic shape sensing has an outstanding capability to sense curvature and shape in 2D and 3D. The technology will enable cutting-edge applications in the fields of robotic and standard minimally invasive surgery – such as real-time position tracking, instrument and catheter navigation, force and bending detection as well as deformation monitoring.

Fiber optic shape sensing as turn-key solution.

Combining issues such as reduced exposure to radiations while still being able to “see” through the body may at first seem quite challenging. This was the reason why fiber optic shape sensing was developed. It presents the advantage of being able to track itself thus recreating the shape inside the body.

Our fiber optic shape sensing system comprises a sensor, a measurement device and the software that manages all the algorithms for data readout and processing. The key constituent for this type of sensing is based on simultaneous and real-time monitoring of the induced strain in a multi-core optical fiber with included draw tower grating sensors (MCF-DTG®) while compensating for common mode effects such as temperature changes. Depending on the curvature orientation of the MCF, some of the DTG®s on the outer cores will experience a relative tension or compression with respect to the central core and therefore, will register positive- or negative-induced strain changes, respectively. To calculate the local curvature (or bending radius), the relative strains are measured and processed. To determine the curvature profile of an MCF, the gathered data is given as a function of the DTG® positions along the optical fiber and is processed with special reconstruction algorithms.

System features

∙ Turn-key shape sensing system (full system with individual building blocks tailored to application’s needs)
∙ Easy integration in existing systems (Small dimensions of the optical fiber (down to 0.2mm thickness), measurement device available on “integrable bracket design”)
∙ High bending detection range (bending radius 10m>R>1mm)
∙ High strain resistivity suited for challenging applications
∙ Solution tailored to customers’ needs / requirements
∙ Immune to electromagnetic radiation, passive components
∙ Miniaturized & biocompatible
∙ High resolution and accurate 3D shape sensing (Tip position error <2mm @ 30cm lengths)
∙ High density of sensors in a single fiber
∙ Real-time & dynamic sensing

Fields of application…

… all different with one common point: navigate, track position and measure curvature in critical sections.  Fiber optic shape sensing turns out to be particularly well suited for applications in challenging disciplines. Special needs, high level of requirements, safety-critical; these are many challenges to which the sensing flagship company brings solutions. Whether it be in biomedicine, industrial processes or in structural health monitoring, FBGS provides a turn-key solution tailored to the individual requirements of your application.

The biomedical sector is currently the main integrator of fiber optic shape sensing systems. It has already found many disciplines mostly in catheter navigation and position tracking. But although shape sensing finds most of its applications there, other fields are not to be put aside. Great potential is also to be found in the energy sector as well as in other industries and R&D.

Here are a few examples, where fiber optic shape sensing can be integrated:

∙ Catheter navigation during ablation procedures
∙ Tip force detection during ablation
∙ Navigation for drug delivery catheters
∙ Robotic instruments force detection and haptic feedback
∙ Position tracking for manual and robotic orthopedic procedures
∙ Force sensing for continuum robotic systems
∙ Shape sensing in continuum robotic systems
∙ Neurosurgical needle tracking
∙ Neuro-implant position tracking
∙ Instrument navigation during bronchoscopy

∙ Wind turbines, structural health monitoring of the blades
∙ Monitoring of critical sections in pipelines
∙ Curvature measurements of complex installations

Industry / R&D
∙ Measure curvature in robotic arms

Virtual Reality (VR)



Cases for Shape Sensing

This paper describes the influence of sensor distance on the accuracy of the probe and thus on the quality of the shape reconstruction. It compares four fibers with different sensor spacings and shows the results of the experiment.

Indra is a multinational company specializing in Technology Consulting throughout Europe and Latin America. With 550 million invested in R&D in the last three years, they see innovation as their driving force.

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Shape sensing | FAQ

Why is fiber optic shape sensing particularly suited for biomedical applications?
Fiber optic shape sensing has great potential for several medical and industrial applications to sense curvature, position and shape in 2D and 3D. Given the small dimension of the fiber, its immunity to radiation, biocompatibility and flexibility for the integration, fiber optic shape sensing will open a completely new category of currently non-existing measurement possibilities.
Which technologies are best suited for fiber optic shape sensing?
The use of Draw Tower Gratings in Multi Core Fibers (MCF-DTG®s) offers a clean and elegant way of tracking shape along the length of an optical fiber with a high spatial resolution. Not only the magnitude of the curvature can be deduced but also its direction, resulting in a reconstruction of the fiber shape in 3D. In combination with the small size, the high sensitivity and the electromagnetic immunity of the optical fiber, this innovative “shape sensing” ability opens a whole new area of medical and industrial applications and will open brand-new categories of currently non-existing measurement possibilities. The emergence of the MCF-DTG® for shape sensing is therefore a paradigm shift and will be a preferred solution over conventional methods. Multicore Fiber MCFs are specially configured optical fibers with multiple single-mode cores sharing the same cladding. The cores can all be addressed individually. The DTG fabrication process has successfully been adopted for writing fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) into the MCFs. Hence, one can simultaneously produce DTGs of specific configurations up to 7 cores at the same exact axial location and with the same wavelength. This precision in the inscription of these high density DTGs in the MCF represents a major milestone. (+ graphics) Signal Interrogation Schemes Two well-established detection schemes — wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) and optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) — are well suited for monitoring the wavelength shift associated with the induced strains of the MCF-DTG sensors. The signals from the individual cores are routed via a specially configured fiber optic fan-out device to separate optical fibers, which can be easily connected to the different channels on the interrogator. These techniques are designed to provide detection speeds up to 100 Hz for OFDR and several kilohertz for WDM.
How / why can FBGS deliver a complete turn-key shape sensing solution?
Relying on over a decade of experience in the fields of fiber optics, gratings and measurement devices, FBGS combines both technology and application know-how to achieve complete sensing solutions. Shape sensing was logically the next step to address after completing a performant strain sensing system. Moreover, we invest in research and development to keep improving our sensing system and tailor it to medical applications needs. As such it makes us one of the pioneers in the field of shape sensing.