Electronic skin can sense touch, pain just like human skin


The researchers say that the device is capable of mimicking body’s quick response to things, and can react to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain.

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Researchers at RMIT University have developed electronic skin that can sense pain just like real skin. It can also sense and react to changes in temperature and pressure.

“Our artificial skin reacts instantly when pressure, heat or cold reach a painful threshold,” Madhu Bhaskaran, Professor at RMIT University, said. “It’s a critical step forward in the future development of the sophisticated feedback systems that we need to deliver truly smart prosthetics and intelligent robotics.”

The team used three technologies, including stretchable electronics, temperature-reactive coatings, and brain-mimicking memory, developed and patented by them, to develop pressure and pain sensing prototypes.

In each prototype, electronic memory cells triggered a response when the pressure, heat or pain reached a set threshold. Electronic memory cells imitate the way the brain uses long-term memory to recall and retain information, the paper noted.

The skin-like sensing prototype device, made with stretchable electronics.
 
| Photo Credit: RMIT

 

“These new devices can react to real mechanical pressure, temperature and pain, and deliver the right electronic response,” Md Ataur Rahman, researcher at RMIT University, said.

 

The researchers say that the device is capable of mimicking body’s quick response to things, and can react to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain.

“It means our artificial skin knows the difference between gently touching a pin with your finger or accidentally stabbing yourself with it – a critical distinction that has never been achieved before electronically,” Rahman added.

The advancements made by the devices may lead to real-world applications in biomedical technologies, including improving prosthetics, non-invasive alternatives to skin grafts, and smarter robotics, according to the research paper.

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