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Electronic Sensor Rivals Sensitivity of Human Skin

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the super-touch dept.

Science 39

ananyo writes "A flexible electronic sensor made from interlocking hairs can detect the gentle steps of a ladybird and distinguish between shear and twisting forces. The sensor consists of two interlocking sheets of nanofibres. When the sensor sheet is pressed, twisted or brushed, the squishy, metal-coated hairs change position, generating changes in the sensor's electrical resistance (abstract). Such subtle tactile input would be very useful for robots designed to interact with people, says Matei Ciocarlie, a scientist at robotics company Willow Garage. 'Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics,' says Ciocarlie, because it poses such a challenging problem: in addition to being robust, sensitive and flexible, it needs to be made in very large sheets."

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39 comments

Just what we need... (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820269)

Maybe now, at the airport, we can get a robot to feel my junk instead.

Re:Just what we need... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820313)

Because no other women or man would touch it in the first place. :)

Re:Just what we need... (4, Funny)

Thundaaa Struk (1375331) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820337)

Can American Airlines have a queue for it's Executive Platinum members where they can get felt up by a robot with Asian women sized hands? It's the little things that count....right?

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820419)

It's the little things that count....right?

Speak for yourself. Mine ain't little.

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820461)

That's not your dingus dude, it's your lap band cord......they must have tightened you really hard to have that much slack left.

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40821013)

Sounds bad. Imagine what a glitch would be like while it was feeling someone up...

Re:Just what we need... (2)

EdIII (1114411) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821343)

I can see tech support now.

Tech Support - "Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on?"
Passenger - "It's crushing my fucking nuts!! I can't see shit man. Where's the fucking power button?!"
Tech Support - "Sir, I cannot help you if you continue to use such language. Please wait for a supervisor"
Supervisor - "What version of Windows are you using?"

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40822675)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS-tan

Olde news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820323)

The Borg have been doing this for years and demo'd it on D.A.T.A.

Re:Olde news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820619)

You didn't hear? They got sued by Apple who actually invented the concept of blowing cool breath on human skin thereby causing "goosebumps" to appear. That's the breaks. Too bad Trek wasn't shot in Asia somewhere where they don't care about that whole IP concept.

Where to take artificial skin research. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820341)

Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics", says Ciocarlie, because it poses such a challenging problem: in addition to being robust, sensitive and flexible, it needs to be made in very large sheets."

Yes. And it needs to feel good to the person touching it or who is being touched by it.

They also need to have the skin have different textures and colors. For example - and it's the only one I can think of - skin needs to feel different between an arm and a female nipple. Also, the nipples need to be able to change as if during sexual excitement.

The other thing they need to do is to allow skin to secret fluids. For example - it's the first thing that popped in my head - a vagina and differentiate between sexual arousal or lack thereof. And also produce sweat.such when - just the first thing that popped in my head, again - sexual arousal and intercourse.

Also, anal tissue needs to feel different and be resistant to personal lubricants..

These are just some thoughts I've had on where robotic science could take their research on artificial skin.

I tried pursuing this research myself and comparing the results with co-eds, but the University dismissed me for some reason.

Re:Where to take artificial skin research. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821247)

I tried pursuing this research myself and comparing the results with co-eds, but the University dismissed me for some reason.

That was because the co-eds refused to participate in your research so you had zero results to compare with. Mate, you should leave some branches of research to people who are more qualified.

Re:Where to take artificial skin research. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40822191)

I tried pursuing this research myself and comparing the results with co-eds, but the University dismissed me for some reason.

That was because the co-eds refused to participate in your research so you had zero results to compare with. Mate, you should leave some branches of research to people who are more qualified.

That's right. A more qualified person would have known how to convince the co-eds to participate.

Re:Where to take artificial skin research. (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#40822037)

Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics", says Ciocarlie, because it poses such a challenging problem: in addition to being robust, sensitive and flexible, it needs to be made in very large sheets."

Yes. And it needs to feel good to the person touching it or who is being touched by it.

They also need to have the skin have different textures and colors. For example - and it's the only one I can think of - skin needs to feel different between an arm and a female nipple. Also, the nipples need to be able to change as if during sexual excitement.

The other thing they need to do is to allow skin to secret fluids. For example - it's the first thing that popped in my head - a vagina and differentiate between sexual arousal or lack thereof. And also produce sweat.such when - just the first thing that popped in my head, again - sexual arousal and intercourse.

Also, anal tissue needs to feel different and be resistant to personal lubricants..

These are just some thoughts I've had on where robotic science could take their research on artificial skin.

I tried pursuing this research myself and comparing the results with co-eds, but the University dismissed me for some reason.

Wow. Science is just at the preliminary stages of being able to provide a decent sense of touch to a machine and you already want to fuck it.

Re:Where to take artificial skin research. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40822321)

You forgot that the vagina needs to be warmer than the anus. Amateur.

Very nice (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820383)

This is useful. There have been various other attempts at building a robot skin with sensors, but they haven't been very good. Arrays of pressure sensors, like a touch screen, have been built, but nothing has been good enough to be really useful.

Being able to sense shear forces is very useful when picking up something. One of the low-level reflexes in the body is the one that maintains contact with things you're holding, applying enough pressure to keep the object from slipping, but not much more than that. Robots need that, too.

Very felt up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40820601)

True, but there's another quality artificial skin must have. Durability.

Re:Very nice (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820653)

This is useful. There have been various other attempts at building a robot skin with sensors, but they haven't been very good. Arrays of pressure sensors, like a touch screen, have been built, but nothing has been good enough to be really useful.

The big problem with most of the solutions I've seen is that they wear out pretty fast. Skin is self-renewing, rubber isn't. But I wonder if a replaceable rubber skin and capacitance sensing won't wind up being the big winner.

Re:Very nice (4, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821329)

A replaceable rubber sheath will decrease the sensitivity, and irresponsible robots in the heat of lifting boxes might forget to put it on in spite of the protection it provides.

It makes my mouth water (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820471)

The sensor consists of two interlocking sheets of nanfibres.

Hmmm nanfibres, can I have some chicken biryani with it?

Careful euphemisms (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820535)

Such subtle tactile input would be very useful for robots designed to interact with people

In other words, this is for sexbots to react more effectively. Now more than ever we need to listen to the Space Pope: Don't Date Robots!

Re:Careful euphemisms (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821339)

Dude, you're not using your Cherry 500 correctly. You're not supposed to care about how it feels. Maybe in a later version...

Durability (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820643)

This is very cool. But is it as tough as human skin. Granted we can be cut, scraped etc, but real skin is quite durable and even when damaged can self repair almost always. But I guess you have to start somewhere and this sounds good. A real necessity.

Re:Durability (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | about a year and a half ago | (#40822575)

They can just replace it later, like changing a tire. It only has to last until John Connor is killed anyway.

Skin is important (1)

NoSalt (801989) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820677)

"Skin has been an overlooked part of robotics"

The Borg Queen doesn't overlook skin.

finally - better input (2)

just another AC (2679463) | about a year and a half ago | (#40820801)

everyone has always known, garbage in garbage out.
If we can get better quality inputs into robotics, it will make the processing steps much easier.

The amount of information that comes from touch... being deaf or blind is a disadvantage, but having no sense of touch would be absolutely crippling for a human!

I have great hope that this will be a huge leap forward when it goes into production.

Re:finally - better input (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40821187)

The amount of information that comes from touch... being deaf or blind is a disadvantage, but having no sense of touch would be absolutely crippling for a human!

I remember reading that either Leprosy or a condition that had similar symptoms was rooted in a loss of tactile sense. Without the pain feedback, natural reactions to minimize injury just weren't there, so when the victim was injured, they got more injured than anyone else would. Also, the pain signal is a major key in activating some of the responses that lead to efficient healing.

So, by losing tactile sense, people were get injured more often, more severely, and with longer recovery times. This also left them much more vulnerable to infection, and unaware of mild infections (that you usually only notice because of sore tissue).

Re:finally - better input (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821197)

This I can attest to. A while back I got a pretty deep large cut on one of my fingers enough so that it did a fair amount of nerve damage and now have no feeling on the top part of that finger. I don't feel when things touch it, hot, cold, etc. Because of this I have accidentally gotten some bad burns and not known about it. Granted this is nothing compared to those stories that come up every so often of the poor kid who doesn't feel any pain [google.com] that really would be hell.

Name spelling error (1)

psergiu (67614) | about a year and a half ago | (#40821233)

It's "Matei Ciocârlie", not "Matei Ciocarlie"

"â" is not "a". The same way as "w" is not replaceable with "vv" in english names.

The letter "â" can be easily written in HTML as "â"

Re:Name spelling error (1)

serbanp (139486) | about a year and a half ago | (#40823875)

I wonder how he's spelling his own name on the Driving License... Very likely with "a" and not with "â"

... and ... (1)

ninjagin (631183) | about a year and a half ago | (#40822951)

The skin also needs to be stain-resistant and washable. Yes. I said it. You can't un-read it.

Robots with more sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40823053)

I, for one, welcome our Robotic Overloads.

Bird? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40826985)

I had to look up "ladybird". Never heard of it. Discovered it means "ladybug". The lady____s that I've seen look more like bugs than birds.

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