Singapore team creates artificial skin with 'feel'
Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.
The device, dubbed ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, is made up of 100 small sensors and is about 1 square centimeters.
The researchers at the National University of Singapore say it can process information faster than the human nervous system, is able to recognize 20 to 30 different textures and can read Braille with more than 90 percent accuracy.
“So humans need to slide to feel texture, but in this case the skin, with just a single touch, is able to detect textures of different roughness,” said research team leader Benjamin Tee, adding that artificial intelligence algorithms let the device learn quickly.
A demonstration showed the device could detect that a squishy stress ball was soft, and determine that a solid plastic ball was hard.
“When you lose your sense of touch, you essentially become numb ... and prosthetic users face that problem,” said Tee.
“So by recreating an artificial version of the skin, for their prosthetic devices, they can hold a hand and feel the warmth and feel that it is soft, how hard are they holding the hand.”
The technology is still in the experimental stage, but there had been “tremendous interest,” especially from the medical community, Tee said.