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Bionic Skin: the Killer App For Flexible Electronics

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the who-wouldn't-wear-cyber-skin dept.

Medicine 46

the_newsbeagle writes "Most of the researchers who work on flexible electronics imagine putting their materials to use in flexible displays, like a rollable, foldable iPad that you could cram in your pocket. And I'm not saying that wouldn't be cool. But researcher Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo has a different idea: He wants his ultra-thin, ultra-flexible electronics to be used as bionic skin. Someya and other researchers have created circuits that stick to your skin, and that can stretch and bend as you move your body. These materials are still in the labs, but the scientists imagine many uses for them. For example, if a synthetic skin is studded with pressure and heat sensors, it could be used as a lifelike covering for prosthetic limbs. There are also potential biomedical applications: The e-skin could discreetly monitor an outpatient's vital signs, and send the data to a nearby computer. The article includes a short video showing Someya's material in action."

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Like most new tech (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44681735)

The first adopters will be in the adult entertainment industry.

"Your skin.... Your skin feels so electric" she said.

Re:Like most new tech (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44681847)

It's like that tng movie where data gets real skin.

Re:Like most new tech (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44681893)

the killer app will be a prosthetic appendage that sends signals to the biological member. strap it on, or couple it to its twin being used by the webcam person

A poem, if you will (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681755)

It's like a nigga, who's in the hole,
It's like a nigga, he's on the dole!

It's like a nigga, he's fantastic,
It's like a nigga, he's niggatastic!

Cool (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#44681761)

You know..eventually, we will figure out how to make a human being, entirely through mechanical means, without the use of procreation. :)

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44681825)

And we the geeks will finally have the upper hand in, um, well ... ugh. We'll still be geeks and the only hot chicks we'll get are the ones we build ourselves.

captcha: godsend

Or... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#44681789)

...researcher Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo...

if a synthetic skin is studded with pressure and heat sensors...

...or suckers [google.com]

So many applications... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year ago | (#44681837)

...and not one of them fit for discussion in polite company.

;-)

Re:So many applications... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44681897)

this is slashdot. we're on it

Re:So many applications... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year ago | (#44692647)

You raise an excellent point.

How about suburban armour? (3, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#44681905)

The next time a DIY tool falls, and I block it with my forearm, it'd be swell if the skin senses the impact and immediately hardens/cushions into a bracer/gauntlet to shield my fleshy arm beneath.

Re:How about suburban armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682035)

Is there really any theoretical benefit for using electronics in place of non-Newtonian fluids? There's already commercialized and apparently working applications for those: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D3o [wikipedia.org]

Re:How about suburban armour? (-1, Troll)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#44682079)

what, like dip your arms in ooblek? that sounds pretty weak, even for an AC. do you know what AC means? I didn't think so, or else you wouldn't have said something so silly. know what i mean? i think you do.

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#44682141)

flexibility, ultra-thin and all that, when not needed. The idea is to make armour appear from nowhere. I don't want to wear a liquid wet-suit while swinging a hammer. I'm fine wearing some thin plastic.

Re:How about suburban armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682177)

You'd still have to coat your arms in electrorheological fluid, since the armour can't simply appear from nowhere. The skin-thin electronics would just allow the controlling circuits to take less space...

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#44682275)

air bladders.

Re:How about suburban armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682487)

There isn't probably enough time to fill one at the time of impact unless there's proximity sensor that tracks distant objects and inflates the airbag when the set approach speed threshold is exceeded. Sounds a lot like more of a hazard than a useful system though.

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#44682561)

agreed. although maybe paired with propreoception sensors, to notice when I lift my arm in a defensive gesture as a natural reflex.

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44684093)

So we're back to Dune-like references, where the sensors continually monitor the speed of any incoming object and automatically actuate when an object of sufficient velocity is detected in the proximity of the user?

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44683407)

Read the link, it's not a liquid.

Re:How about suburban armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682107)

Not a bad idea. Cover some armor like thing in bionic skin, measure the incoming force, adjust inner portion accordingly.

Re:How about suburban armour? (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#44682145)

Exactly. Hey, it could collect the distributed inner portion into the one region, or it could fill air bladders into cushion pockets, or it could dispense a foaming agent as a one-time injury-preventing mechanism. Whatever.

Re:How about suburban armour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44685249)

They have an analog version of that already- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiq2Hxl5zx4

Ultra-thin space or bio suit? (2)

kLimePie (3031053) | about a year ago | (#44681915)

For example, if a synthetic skin is studded with pressure and heat sensors, it could be used as a lifelike covering for prosthetic limbs.

If we laminated the whole person, or at least the whole body short of the facial orifices, this might make for an ultra-thin space suit. The suit would be a mechanical counter-pressure suit [wikipedia.org] that uses the suit fabric itself rather than a balloon-like cushion of air to compress the body in the vacuum of space. While whole body electronics isn't necessary for such a suit, it would make it more efficient by allowing for subtle variations in pressure, elasticity, or rigidness across the surface of the suit.

it's not an app! (4, Insightful)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#44682007)

can we please stop using terminology like marketers? everything new and cool is suddenly a "killer app" which means nothing anymore.

so please, shove your big data up your cloud and paradigm shift your way out (better use your exit strategy).

mad? who me?

Re:it's not an app! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682195)

"Killer app? That means 'killer application', right? Like a really cool application of this technology? I can totally swing that lingo, no worries."

Re:it's not an app! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682209)

Welcome to the new /., where posts are made up and points don't matter.

Re:it's not an app! (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44682323)

can we please stop using terminology like marketers? everything new and cool is suddenly a "killer app" which means nothing anymore.

>

I couldn't agree more. Besides, with the blurred lines between what someone actually means when they say "literally" these days., I'm not sure I'd want to wear anything that's a "killer app". It might be some kind of code slang for "Kevorkian skin". There's already a Kevorkian scarf [youtube.com]

Re:it's not an app! (1)

syockit (1480393) | about a year ago | (#44682731)

Killer app here refers to "killer appliance", an appliance which you can't do without that necessitates people to find, or produce, more people just to put it on. (I'm just following Wikipedia's [wikipedia.org] definition)

This is a game changer for countries with falling birth rates, like Japan.

iSkin (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | about a year ago | (#44682013)

Looks to me like a Smartphone you'll never misplace.

and thus are always tracked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682069)

fook that shit

Re:iSkin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682229)

the three letter agencies, commercial data compilers/exploiters, and marketers will all be drooling like crazy over all the new user tracking possibilities this would allow.

6 million dollar man is real now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682055)

na naa na naaa na nananananana naaa
cho chohcochochochcoco
hehe

If it can be monitored by a computer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682191)

...it WILL be monitored by the NSA and other criminals.

Don't tread on me (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44682211)

Considering the government's propensity to use any consumer technology to invade the privacy of the user, I'm not all that anxious to use wearable, stickable electronic devices (most likely communications devices). And certainly not "bionic skin".

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad I'm getting too old for this bullshit. Good luck with it, though. I hope you do a better job protecting your privacy with the next generation of consumer electronics than we've done with the current one.

On the other hand, if this new technology will allow me to play racing games in a realistic manner without a kludgey steering wheel controller, I may have to take a look, but only if I can disconnect it from the network.

Re:Don't tread on me (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44684371)

I'm not all that anxious to use wearable, stickable electronic devices (most likely communications devices).

So have you thrown out your cell phone? I mean, if you're worried about tracking devices and surveillance, you should notice how many people carry one voluntarily!

Re:Don't tread on me (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44684629)

So have you thrown out your cell phone?

No, but I've changed the way I use all consumer technology because of all the spying.

And I bet you'd be surprised how many other people have done that, voluntarily.

Re:Don't tread on me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44686389)

I've rooted my phone and essentially disconnected from the network for only two things, checking email and text messages 5 times a day.

Starship Troopers (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#44682691)

if a synthetic skin is studded with pressure and heat sensors,

One step closer to powered armor?

Re:Starship Troopers (1)

fredmeister (1159859) | about a year ago | (#44682871)

More like sandtrout. "My skin is not my own." - Leto II, Children of Dune

other uses include storing recipes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682787)

predicting the actual uses of new tech has never been easy.

Sci-Fi or reality? (1)

lolococo (574827) | about a year ago | (#44682905)

It sounds like we're getting closer to Peter Hamilton's OCTattoos [wikipedia.org] technology. What next, rejuvenation? Man, I'd love that :)

Life's a bitch, then you rejuvenate and do it all over again

Robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683341)

Gripping fragile objects is simplified down to fuzzy logic with many stretchy sensors.

Captcha: climbing

I was going to say Mark of the Beast... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44684109)

I was going to say Mark of the Beast with your personal id and data embedded on your skin, but with the whole "cover prosthetics" line I think I'm going to go with Terminator instead.

Could be useful for prosthetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44688341)

This could be useful as part of the skin interface inside a prosthesis.
If this is water-resistant, it could measure temperature and sweat, and signal something (yet to be invented) to supply cooling.

It is really a pain to have my artificial leg lose suction due to sweat while I am exercising. Or just while I am walking during 95% humidity and 95 degree days. The gel liners are great at providing cushion and preventing skin shear, but they retain heat.

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