Over the past 10 years, robots became a part and parcel of our lives. One of them has recently received a passport with citizenship just like that. A lot of families have bought robots to share their homes with them. Robotic vacuum cleaners, robopets, and even Pepper – a robotic child that is extremely popular in Japan.
This is how we know the future is already here. A lot of items we saw in sci-fi movies are getting real, becoming our regular gadgets and tools. Tech progress is that rapid, there soon will show up a Terminator to warn us about the danger. Yes, our robots can be easily differentiated from humans, but scientists are doing all they can to improve them.
Recently a group of scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder devised an electronic skin, or e-skin, which mimics the mechanical and functional properties of natural human skin. Robotic skin is not new. There were attempts at creating it before. But this time they have invented something unique.
Sensing is critical because when human beings interact with robots, it is important to make sure electronic friends won’t hurt their live palls. Any production is polluting the Earth in this or that way. When it comes to tech researches – wastes here are enormous as one sample can hardly be used more than once. So, these people took an aim to reduce pollution as much as they could. The result of their work has recently been presented.
New electronic skin or e-skin has mechanical and functional features of natural human skin. This artificial skin is not only stretchable and bendable, but also capable of measuring pressure, temperature, and vibration. Moreover, it is self-healing and fully recyclable. This invention is made of polymer and silver nanoparticles, which help e-skin restoration.
For instance, if for some reason this e-skin is torn in apart, two sides easily come back together with help of rehealing agent and heat pressing. This combination restores broken chemical bonds. If the damage is irreparable, the device can be put into a solution that separates and recovers silver nanoparticles, thereby allowing the material to be recycled for a new e-skin.
What does this mean for humanity? First, the robots we produce will be all upgraded soon with unique skin that can help their interference with human beings. Second, we are one step closer to creating skin restoration technologies that can help people recover from severe damages fast and with no scars in future. Today we are capable of 3D printing organs that hardly differ from real ones, but we still face certain troubles when it comes to skin burns.
Even if the terminator won’t show up, humanity won’t be upset. At least we now know we can create one in a few years or so. But at least we are on the way to medical break-through that can make our lives much easier reducing pain. This is a good aim too.