Technology

Ingenious Sensor Gives Robots Better-Than-Human Sense of Touch---and Fingerprints

80beatsBy Sophie BushwickJun 21, 2012 4:09 PM

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http://vimeo.com/43688296 Are your fingers resting on a slick touchscreen or a wooden desk? The sense of touch and ability to differentiate between textures provide invaluable information about the world around us---and now they may be able to transmit that information to robots and prosthetic hands at well. Researchers have developed a mechanical “finger” called the BioTac, made up of a rigid central sensor surrounded by liquid and covered in a flexible skin. When the BioTac strokes a surface, that surface’s texture produces unique vibrations in the skin, which has ridges like those seen in a human fingerprint. And the BioTac’s software can interpret those vibrations, along with the force that the surface exerts on the mechanical finger, to identify 117 different textures with a 95 percent success rate. In fact, when it came to distinguishing between textures, the BioTac actually out-performed humans. [via Pop Sci]

Video courtesy of University of Southern California

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