The “super power” of electronic skin

  I believe anyone who has watched the movie “X-Men” will be impressed by Magneto’s powerful and magical ability. He can control any metal. No matter what he wants to do, he doesn’t need to get up at all, just move his fingers.
   In fact, with the advancement of technology, our lives have become much simpler. For example, using electronic devices with voice recognition functions can turn on lights and turn on air conditioners. In many cases, we are very similar to Magneto. Now, this similarity will be further upgraded. The emergence of electronic skins allows us to control some electronic devices with our fingers.
   In the past few years, electronic skin has attracted widespread attention from software and materials engineers. Electronic skin has a variety of functions. It can be applied to human skin like a band-aid to track the body’s muscle movement, heart rate and brain activity and other health data; it can also allow robots to feel changes in the environment, and may even allow robots in the future Have a sense of touch.
   Next, let us understand the magical electronic skin together!
   Electronic skin will be placed in the hands of the world’s
   electronic skin can be worn in the film is a hand, or can be transferred to emulate the skin on the human body. Installing different devices in the electronic skin can give it different functions.
   In 2018, Dennis Makarov, a researcher at the Helmholtz Federation (research institute) in Germany, and his colleagues developed an electronic skin that can manipulate objects without touching it. It has directional sensing capabilities ( Determine the location and distance of the object).
   This electronic skin is in the shape of a glove, with a magnetic field sensor on the palm of the hand, and a tiny magnet on the fingertip. When a human hand makes various movements, the magnet on the fingertip will change its position, further changing the magnetic field near the hand, and the magnetic field sensor can capture the subtle movements of the hand and transmit the action instructions to the corresponding electronic equipment. .
   Experimenters wearing this electronic skin can type on the virtual keyboard remotely without touching the actual keyboard. In another experiment, the researchers successfully changed the brightness of the lamp by moving their fingers without touching the lamp.
   Researchers say that in the future, electronic skin will bring great convenience to our lives. The device may have great uses in navigation, robotics, regenerative medicine, sports, games, and virtual reality and augmented reality interaction. The research team is also preparing to increase the sensitivity of the sensor by two to three orders of magnitude and calibrate the device based on the earth’s magnetic field.
   Get real tactile
   sense of touch is one of the most basic human five senses, it can help people perceive their surroundings, and timely manner to avoid possible dangers. However, for some people with impaired limbs, wanting to feel the world through touch normally seems to be a luxury. However, the appearance of electronic skin has brought good news to such people.
   At present, even the most realistic and bionic prosthetic limbs in the world cannot achieve a breakthrough in tactile sense. The electronic skin with tactile ability can fully make the prosthesis understand the actions of touching, bending or pressing, and help people with the prosthesis to restore the feeling.
   So, how does the electronic skin do it?
   The principle of electronic skin with tactile sensation is similar, and different research institutions are slightly different. Here is an example of a highly sensitive electronic skin developed by researchers at Stanford University in California. This electronic skin can even feel a butterfly landing Slight pressure on your hands.
   The electronic skin is composed of three parts: pressure sensor, circuit and nerve cell with special protein. Through these three elements, the electronic skin can realize the reception, conversion and transmission of tactile signals. The pressure sensor is the most important sensing device of the skin. It can sense the change of external pressure and convert the pressure into resistance. The sensor is connected to a circuit, which converts the change in resistance into an electrical pulse signal. Next, through photoelectric devices (such as micro LED lights), the electrical signals are converted into optical signals. Nerve cells containing special proteins then convert light signals into nerve signals, thus realizing the transmission process of touch.
   The tactile sense that can sense pressure can help people recognize the shape and texture of objects. If sensors that can measure pressure, temperature, humidity, and airflow are used at the same time, the electronic skin will eventually look like real skin, and even let us feel the world more sensitively.
   The electronic skin that once appeared in science fiction has now become a real technology. I believe that with the deepening of research, electronic skin can shine in the fields of medical treatment and human body function enhancement.