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Artificial Skin Sensitivity Rivals That of Human Skin

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the i-remember-that-part-in-First-Contact dept.

Science 29

New submitter hebbosome writes "Researchers at Georgia Tech have provided a glimpse of a future full of highly-sensitive robots. Their nanoelectronic pressure sensors, comparable in sensitivity to human skin, are made out of new type of vertical transistor (abstract). 'In Wang’s nanowire transistors, the gate traditionally used in electronics is eliminated. Instead, the current flowing through the nanowires is controlled by the electrical charge generated when strain or force applied is to the transistors.' 'The arrays include more than 8,000 functioning piezotronic transistors, each of which can independently produce an electronic controlling signal when placed under mechanical strain.' They could immediately be used in human-machine interfaces for capturing electronic signatures, and, down the road, in robots and prosthetics."

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29 comments

FIRST POST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43570673)

FIRST POST

Re:FIRST POST (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43570943)

first use: fake pussy!

Re:FIRST POST (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571241)

And you still couldn't make it orgasm.

Soon... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43570713)

I can have multiple remote wireless penises in every part of the world for added fun. Symantec products shall end up around my remote genitals at last.

Re:Soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43572003)

While this post is completely base, it is somewhat amusing and on topic to what I was sort of thinking as a sarcastic remark.

Overwelming. (4, Informative)

Ostracus (1354233) | about a year ago | (#43570741)

I think the problem isn't having as many sensitive sensors as possible. It's integrating their output into a larger sensor framework.

Re:Overwelming. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43572917)

I feel ya', man.

Finally (-1, Offtopic)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#43570893)

In your face, Jesus!

BOOYAH!

Future? (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43570947)

They could immediately be used in human-machine interfaces for capturing electronic signatures, and, down the road, in robots and prosthetics.

And further in the future, they could be used for the skin of AI-equipped Realdolls. I, for one, hope they add a cat-girl with pink hairs [northarc.com] option! (Link potentially NSFW depending on your co-workers)

Re:Future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43572459)

Now we also know that when the real commander Data meets with the Borg queen, Data already has something better. "You got skin, baby? So do I!" will be the answer.

Re:Future? (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43575345)

(Link potentially NSFW depending on your co-workers)

Here at the Trappist monastery we were all very disappointed with your post. With an introduction like that we were counting on at least one exposed nipple.

Re:Future? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43576367)

I sent your request to Pink herself, but she was not amused [animeclick.it] .

This year google glass (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#43570961)

next year google feel

Re:This year google glass (3, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43571305)

Nah, I'd expect another name that hammers home its Google-ness with two Gs in a row, like google grope.

purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43570971)

This is for sex dolls, right?

I read robots and prostitutes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571075)

*sigh*

technological problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571079)

Don't give this to the borg queen!

Good news (1)

Denogh (2024280) | about a year ago | (#43571607)

I'm glad this is being worked on so diligently. Artificial skin should be ready for prime time by the time I'm finally able to transfer my consciousness into an artificial body.

Honest Question (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43571631)

What is preventing us from wiring sensors like this into our existing neural pathways? Is it just a matter of the scale being too small? It just seems like, the human body is already full-wired for something like this.

Re: Honest Question (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43574521)

Problem number one is that we're not merely electrical. Outside of the brain (and maybe spine?) all synapses (neuron junctions) require the transit of chemicals—neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and norepinephrine—to fire. Getting artificial skin to send sensory data in this way would be very tricky work, as these chemicals are released in very small quantities into very tiny enclosed cavities, and then re-absorbed so they can be reused.

Two, even if this has superior pressure resolution, consider that human skin has many different kinds of sensors in it (all of which have incompatible and different nerve types.) We have fine- and coarse-grained sensory resolution, we can detect certain forms of vibration, we can detect temperature change, and we can detect injury. Losing that would be a big disadvantage.

Three, it would be distracting. Having a coarse-grained sensory input that is higher-priority than fine-grained input makes it easier to ignore sensations until they are relevant. Many small, equally-weighted pressure sensors don't provide that opportunity.

Four, it can't heal or adjust to temperatures. Yet, anyway.

And five, yes, there's a limited amount of space to plug it in. The body has no way of multiplexing signals, so any time two sensory nerves feed into a single channel, the data is combined and you can't tell where the input came from. In order to maintain the resolution we have, our bodies have one wire for every sensory receptor, all the way up to the brain, unless we're combining inputs. To add new skin with different inputs, you'd need to rewire all of this and then figure out where to plug it in at the brain so it can be processed properly.

All in all, I'd file it in the "50-60 years" drawer.

I know where this is going.. (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43571635)

Androids.. once a real AI is ready to take the challenge, they will be able to use this technology to give it touch and feel senses. This will get interesting.. If we don't have true to life walking androids by 2050, even if only for the elite, I will be very surprised.

this isn't a breakthrough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571767)

From what I understand, they've got plenty of sensitivity to touch, it's detecting the shearing forces which they find difficult to duplicate in artificial skin. Shearing force is used to, for example, tell how tightly to hold something without dropping it.

But can they feel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571847)

Love?

Data tried this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43571871)

The Borg queen was very convincing.

I Can Haz Foreskin Back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43572131)

Wang?

A few rounds of hammer throwing? (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year ago | (#43572389)

Let me see those sensors after a few rounds of hammer throwing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_throw [wikipedia.org]

In one day our fingers could lift an egg, lift a dog, throw a hammer and play basketball. We aren't that bad, really.

The versatility is great and maybe these nanogadgets will be there someday too.

Sensitivity of what part exactly? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about a year ago | (#43572401)

developing something that is as sensitive as the underside of my foot is probably not hard, esp. considering I run around barefoot quite some time. When it comes to parts where the nerves are very dense (like hands, you pervert, not what you thought) it might get tricky ;)

This isn't new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43574001)

People have known about Wang's sensitive skin for ages.

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