Artificial skin lets robots feel

BioTac Artificial Skin Technology is sure to be a storm with Robotics Designers. Giving them the opportunity to add a third sense to there robotic marvels. Now they can have the sense of touch to go along with existing technologies of sight and of sound.  Thanks to the technology coming out of the University of Southern California making this possible.

They have chosen to call their sensor BioTac, which is a new type of tactile sensor designed to mimic the human fingertip with its soft flexible skin. The sensor makes it possible to identify different types of texture by analyzing the vibrations produced as the sensor brushes over materials. This sensor is also capable of measuring pressure applied and  ambient temperature around the finger tip, expect to see this technology in next gen prosthetics. Let us know your thoughts on it.

[via technabob]


  1. Nordmann says:

    I welcome thy, ohh great mechanical overlords!

  2. Bacchus says:

    Presumably this will carry “academic” pricing.

    That said, it doesn’t look all that complicated, apart from the minute sensors, and I guess they’re either available or not.

    I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t come up with an alternative using piezo sensors, if that isn’t what this design uses. Let’s be honest, fake finger skin isn’t exactly hard to do – Just ask any gummi bear:

  3. Garret says:

    The question is, will this allow our robot overlords to feel pain?

  4. Zee says:

    That was a useless video. It does not show how the sensor functions at all

  5. Oh, good. Now robots can feel how squishy we meatbags really are.

    “Hey, VYL-114, come over here and squeeze this human. It’s like one of those stress relief balls the meatbags are always talking about.”

    • CRJEEA says:

      haha I like this one (:
      it’s when the robot that can exert one hundred tones of pressure doesn’t know it’s own strength…
      I’m thinking is a robot had a whole body suit of this stuff it would require some serious parallel possessing to read it all. even if there were if this area is active then read interrupts. Maybe a GPU style possessor could do the trick.
      I’m thinking how many transistors in an i7 then how many zx spectrum computers could you fit on there (leaving room for them all to chatter to each other maybe with slightly reduced individual memory)

    • Rollyn01 says:

      “Why is this human screaming? I thought they liked handshakes?”

      “Your sensors are out of tune again. The human is screaming because you broke it.”

  6. dave says:

    Not really something new or a hack. TUM here has been developing such systems as well for some time.

  7. CRJEEA says:

    I came up with a surprisingly similar concept about a year and a half ago but it never got further than a working prototype, since dismantled for parts. I hope some really interesting advances come from this (:

  8. Really cool! Would love to see a more technical write-up on. I’m curious about the sensors they use and their data acquisition setup.

    It looks like something that could be hacked together fair well, given a good understanding of how it works.

  9. kgena says:

    the writer forgot to check the price of these sensors, and it is quite significant …

  10. Victor says:

    At the university I’m working people are trying to use this to give people with prostheses some sense of ‘feeling’.

  11. Hirudinea says:

    Besides next generation prosthetics this could have applications in everything from telepresence to teledildonics!

  12. NewCommentor1283 says:

    great, another piece of the puzzle solved.

    what puzzle? well, in order for robots to create new robots all on their own, they not only need object recognition, but tactile sense to “feel” the part being inserted!

    after all, we have all screwed something up before due to “forcing it” when we were actually doing it wrong! if the robots can now feel like we do, they actually have as much of a chance as us at getting it done without breaking anything!

    the advantage of the computers is they dont “forget” to use feedback analysis! and they dont get frustrated/angry! XD (if it takes too much pressure, STOP, then re-evaluate)

    • Tim says:

      they not only need object recognition, but tactile sense to “feel” the part being inserted!

      In light of the previous comment, I hope you are talking about an assembly robot!

  13. gowhitehat says:

    What if we (humans) are too intelligent to include flaws such that our robots are too good at sensing and anticipating our needs and thus burn us out on the joy they were designed to bring, leaving us as cynical and withdrawn as we were when we started?

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