Technology 2 min read

Researchers Develop Psychosensory Electronic Skin Technology

Researchers from South Korea's DGIST developed a new electronic skin technology that is capable of detecting prick and hot pain sensations.

Professor Jae Eun Jang in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering (left) and Seung-wook Kim, a student in the M.S.-Ph.D. integrated program at DGIST | Image courtesy of DGIST

Professor Jae Eun Jang in the Department of Information and Communication Engineering (left) and Seung-wook Kim, a student in the M.S.-Ph.D. integrated program at DGIST | Image courtesy of DGIST

The researchers at DGIST have developed a psychosensory electronic skin technology that can detect prick and hot pain sensation. Not only would the technology aid the development of humanoid robots, but patients wearing prosthetic arms can also benefit from the result too.

Over the years, the quest to mimic the human’s five senses has led to innovative electronic devices such as cameras and TVs. While mimicking the visual senses have been mostly successful, the tactile sensing has always remained behind.

For example, most current tactile sensor studies are more focused on the physical mimetic technology that measures the pressure a robot applies when grabbing an object. As a result, the psychosensory tactile research – mimicking palpable human feeling – has received less attention.

Well, the researchers at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology at South Korea are about to change that.

In a statement, Professor Jae Eun Jang from DGIST’s Department of Information and Communication Engineering said:

“We have developed a core base technology that can effectively detect pain, which is necessary for developing future-type tactile sensor. “

Creating a Psychosensory Electronic Skin Technology

The researchers used zinc oxide nano-wire technology as a self-powered tactile sensor.

Thanks to the device’s ability to produce electrical charge from mechanical stress (piezoelectric effect), it didn’t require a battery. They also used the Seebeck effect to make a temperature sensor to perform two tasks.

By arranging the electrodes on polyimide flexible substrates, the team was able to grow the ZnO nanowire. Also, they were able to measure the Seebeck effect and piezoelectric effect through temperature and pressure change at the same time.

Finally, Professor Jang and his team developed a signal processing technique that judges the generated pain signal based on the temperature and pressure level, as well as the stimulated area.

With the simplified sensor structure, not only can roboticists measure temperature and pressure, but they can also conveniently apply the technology in other tactile systems. “It will be widely used on electronic skin that feels various senses as well as new human-machine interactions,” Jang noted

For example, it could be used to create robots that can feel pain.

Jang concluded:

“If robots can also feel pain, our research will expand further into technology to control robots’ aggressive tendency, which is one of the risk factors of AI development.”

Read More: Researchers Develop BodyNet, A Wireless Skin-Hugging Sensor

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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