Flexible electronics allow us to cover robots and humans with stretchy sensors
By Takao Someya
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.
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.