TECHNOLOGY

New electronic skin can react to pain like human skin

“No electronic technologies have been able to realistically mimic that very human feeling of pain — until now“ says lead Professor Madhu Bhaskaran.
By ERIK SEDIN Picture ELLA MARU STUDIO
September 08, 2020

Scientists have recently developed an electronic skin that can react to pain just like real skin. The prototype skin was birthed by researches at RMIT University (earlier known as Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Australia and is capable of electronically replicating the way our human skin senses pain. The device, which resembles a post stamp, mimics our body’s near-instant feedback response and reacts with lightning speed to any painful sensations.

— Our artificial skin reacts instantly when pressure, heat, or cold reach a painful threshold. We’re sensing things all the time through the skin but our pain response only kicks in at a certain point, like when we touch something too hot or too sharp, explains Lead researcher Professor Madhu Bhaskaran.

The artificial skin is stretchable and as thin as a sticker but can still measure pressure and temperature. It also has a brain-mimicking memory that is stored in electronic cells to recall and retain previous information. The electronic skin can not only improve intelligence in robotics but also help producers, and users, of smart prosthetics.

— These new devices can react to real mechanical pressure, temperature and pain, and deliver the right electronic response. It means our artificial skin knows the difference between gently touching a pin with your finger or accidentally stabbing yourself with it – a critical distinction that has never been achieved before electronically, concludes Madhu Bhaskaran.

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