30 September 2019

Artificial sense of touch

Coupled with hearing and vision, touch plays an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us. And artificial leather, developed by scientists from Switzerland, is able to reproduce our sense of touch and can significantly improve the human-computer interface for virtual reality and medical rehabilitation applications.

The system of soft sensors and actuators allows the artificial skin to match the shape of the user's brush and provides tactile feedback in the form of pressure and vibration.

The sensors continuously measure the deformation of the skin, so that the tactile feedback can be adjusted in real time, creating the most realistic tactile sensations.

Artificial leather contains soft pneumatic actuators that form a membrane layer that can be inflated. The actuators can be configured for various pressures and frequencies (up to 100 Hz). The skin vibrates when the membrane layer quickly inflates and descends. The sensor layer is located on top of the membrane layer and contains soft electrodes made of a mixture of liquid and solid gallium. These electrodes continuously measure the deformation of the skin and send data to a microcontroller, which uses this feedback to fine-tune the sensation transmitted to the user in response to user movements and changes in external factors.

Artificial skin can be stretched four times compared to the original length of up to a million cycles. This makes it particularly attractive for a number of applications. At the moment, scientists have tested the skin on the fingers of users and continue to improve the technology.


According to the scientists, the next stage of their work will be the creation of a fully wearable prototype for applications in rehabilitation, virtual and augmented reality. The prototype will also be tested in neurobiological research, where it can be used to stimulate the human body, while researchers study the dynamic activity of the brain in magnetic resonance experiments.

Article by Sonar et al. Closed-Loop Haptic Feedback Control Using a Self-Sensing Soft Pneumatic Actuator Skin is published in the journal Soft Robotics.

Elena Panasyuk, portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of EPFL: Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality.

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