Synthetic skin promises to revolutionize medicine and robotics

Japanese researchers developed a neuromorphic electronic skin (that is, with software that appeals to models of neural systems) that mimics the smoothness and natural skin sensations. The invention has promising possibilities in medicine and robotics.

During the testing phase, the electronic skin modified neural activations in the motor cortex of the rats’ brains, causing them to move their fingers through an artificial synapse mechanism, he explained. Tsuyoshi Sekitanimember of the team and author of an article imminent of appearance in the magazine Science.

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It is a hope for patients with amputations or severe burns. By rebuilding circuits of perception and movement, it enables the possibility of once again doing tasks as simple as picking up an object. It also holds promise for new generations of robotic and medical devices, as it makes it possible to perceive external stimuli -such as temperature and pressure- and encode them into signals that enable motor response.

Until now, these developments were limited by the demand for high voltage and by the type of components used. The group of Sekitani modify transcend those problems. Since his electronic skin has no rigid parts, it is matched with the natural soft, flexible and elastic properties. The concepts of contact and sensitivity seem about to undergo a radical transformation.


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