December 9, 2014

A new form of artificial skin, threaded with a network of artificial sensors, could recreate the sense of touch for people wearing prosthetic limbs, researchers revealed on Tuesday.

Researchers in Korea and the U.S. have developed a new form of ultra-thin sensors that can pick up sensations of heat, pressure and moisture, MIT Technology Review reports. The sensors are malleable enough to be woven into a thin layer of polymer. The breakthrough, researchers say, came when they packed the skin with enough sensors, up to 400 per square millimeter, to recreate the sensations of human touch.

“If you have these sensors at high resolution across the finger, you can give the same tactile touch that the normal hand would convey to the brain,” said contributing researcher Roozbeh Ghaffari.

Still, they cautioned that the skin was still several breakthroughs away from becoming a commercial product. Most crucially, scientists need to puzzle out better ways of wiring the skin into the wearer’s nervous system, so that no feeling is lost as the skin transmits its finely tuned signals to the brain.

Read more at MIT Technology Review.

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