OCT 14, 2019 1:55 PM PDT

Robotic Skin?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Scientists have discovered a multifunctional ultra-thin wearable electronic device with imperceptible properties to the user. The device can be thought of robotic skin that can allow the wearer to move naturally and visibly less noticeable features than a Band-Aid. Findings of the study were published in Science Advances and explains how the device is a robust human-machine interface that can allow the automatic collection of information back to the wearer.

"Everything is very thin, just a few microns thick," said Yu, who also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. "You will not be able to feel it."

The technology has applications for healthcare and holds the potential to function as prosthetic skin for a robotic hand and/or other robotic devices. It can also be used as safety measure for situations involving chemical spills and human-inspection based on physical hand usage.

"What if when you shook hands with a robotic hand, it was able to instantly deduce physical condition?" Yu asked.

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH, led a project to develop a multifunctional, ultra-thin wearable human-machine interface.

University of Houston—Image and Caption Credit

Although other devices are currently gaining popularity, these technologies are usually bulky to wear and offer slow response times.

The device, as published by the findings, is a metal oxide semiconductor on a polymer base that is able to process temperatures lower than 300 degrees Celsius.

"We report an ultrathin, mechanically imperceptible, and stretchable (human-machine interface) HMI device, which is worn on human skin to capture multiple physical data and also on a robot to offer intelligent feedback, forming a closed-loop HMI," the researchers wrote. "The multifunctional soft stretchy HMI device is based on a one-step formed, sol-gel-on-polymer-processed indium zinc oxide semiconductor nanomembrane electronics."

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Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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