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Two Research Groups Create 'Electric Skin' 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the toasters-look-like-us-now dept.
Flash Modin writes "Two separate teams, one from UC Berkeley and the other from Stanford, have created distinct types of artificial skin that could find uses in prosthetics or artificial intelligence (Data in First Contact, anyone?). The first team coupled organic electronics with an elastic polymer to make electric skin that could sense a butterfly landing on it (abstract). The second team put a flexible material over a conductive rubber compound which had transistors implanted in it. The device can sense touch when the rubber is compressed, changing the electrical resistance (abstract)."
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Two Research Groups Create 'Electric Skin'

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  • First Contact (Score:3, Informative)

    by SOOPRcow (1279010) on Monday September 13, 2010 @01:56PM (#33563398)
    Nerd point of order: Data's new skin in First Contact was actual organic human skin grafted over his exoskeleton.
  • by VanGarrett (1269030) on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:24PM (#33564552) Homepage

    I guess everyone's first thought will be that they can use this with prosthetics so someone with a fake limb can actually feel. But, I don't see mention of how this could possibly connect to human nerves. Is that kind of thing even possible?

    This is something which is already done with some current prosthetic limbs. Nerve endings from severed limbs are surgically transplanted to convenient mounting locations [youtube.com]. Simple pressure-sensitive structures on the surface of the prosthetic fingers then transmit a signal to the contacting device on the other end of the artificial limb, which in turn, transfer that data to the transplanted nerve ending, by applying equivalent pressure. The prosthetic device is stimulating the same nerves that the original hand did, so the user experiences the sensation as though he still had it, with no need to re-learn signal patterns. Some cutting-edge prosthetics can also pick up nerve signals, and move at the command of the mind, rather than requiring the user to do something more awkward, such as wearing a pressure-sensitive insole in his shoe, and adjusting his balance, every time he wants to lift a spoon to his mouth.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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