Researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology have developed an extremely sensitive tactile sensor that mimics how our hair and skin work together to feel touch, the movement of air, and different textures of objects we come in contact with. The technology may one day be integrated into prosthetic devices that will allow amputees to regain a sense of touch.
The technology relies on combining flexible and stretchable electronic skin with cobalt microwires. The microwires are coated in glass and the tips are placed within artificial silicon-rubber skin. The combination device allows it to feel anything from a slight breeze or a fly landing on it, to weights up to 10 lbs (~5kg) being placed on top. Additionally, the same sensor is able to distinguish lateral slip and friction forces, a particularly useful feature that would be beneficial for robotic fingers holding onto tools and utensils.
Here’s a video from the American Chemical Society discussing the new sensing system:
Study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: Biomimic Hairy Skin Tactile Sensor Based on Ferromagnetic Microwires…