Japanese scientists have created a pressure-sensitive “e-skin” that can be used on human fingers. The ultra-thin “nanomesh sensor” was built by a team at the University of Tokyo, led by Sunghoon Lee.
According to information provided by the University, it’s made up of four layers, one of which is an insulating polyurethane mesh, and another that consists of a network of electrically conductive gold lines that serve as the pressure-sensing electrodes.
The porous membrane is thin enough that when applied to a person’s fingertip, it doesn’t affect their sense of touch or their ability to grasp objects. In fact, 18 test subjects reported that it was imperceptible to the wearer. The mesh is also very durable, remaining intact and functional even after rigorous testing.
It is hoped that the technology could ultimately find use in archiving the handiwork of people such as artisans or surgeons, who perform very delicate, exacting tasks. Based on their finger-pressure data, it’s possible that other people or even robots could learn to perform the same tasks, at the same skill level.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Science.