Xiaodong Chen and colleagues at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed flexible touch sensors that simulate human skin and store tactile information. These sensors work like our haptic memory, which is able to perceive tactile impressions through the sensory receptors distributed throughout the body. These are stored in the brain after they have ceased to interact with our organism.
The sensors are composed of a pressure-sensitive layer that detects changes in electrical resistance when a force is applied. Beneath that is a thin film that registers these changes to form a digital impression of the different pressures received. This information can be kept for a week; In turn, the data can be erased by applying voltage.
Chen says that this advance will help the robots to better recognize their surroundings, control their grip force and act delicately with the most sensitive and soft objects . Even Chinese experts say that future robochefs equipped with this almost human skin could manipulate food in a way that arouses the envy of the best chefs and Michelin stars.