Bionic Skin for a Cyborg You

Flexible electronics allow us to cover robots and humans with stretchy sensors

By Takao Someya

Magazine Cover

One decade ago, my research group at the University of Tokyo created a flexible electronic mesh and wrapped it around the mechanical bones of a robotic hand. We had dreamed of making an electronic skin, embedded with temperature and pressure sensors, that could be worn by a robot. If a robotic health aide shook hands with a human patient, we thought, this sensor-clad e-skin would be able to measure some of the person’s vital signs at the same time.

Today we’re still working intensively on e-skin, but our focus is now on applying it directly to the human body. Such a bionic skin could be used to monitor medical conditions or to provide more sensitive and lifelike prosthetics.

MORE: http://spectrum.ieee.org/magazine

Someya's latest material

Photo: Someya-Sekitani GroupGilded skin: Takao Someya’s latest e-skin material is one-tenth the thickness of plastic kitchen wrap, and it can conform to any body shape.

a golden glove

Someya's latest material

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