According to EPFL, the artificial skin contains soft pneumatic actuators that form a membrane layer which can be inflated by pumping air into it. The actuators can be tuned to varying pressures and frequencies up to 100Hz. The skin vibrates when the membrane layer is inflated and deflated rapidly. A sensor layer sits on top of the membrane layer and contains soft electrodes made of a liquid-solid gallium mixture. EPFL further adds that the electrodes measure the skin’s deformation continuously and send the data to a microcontroller, which uses the feedback to fine-tune the sensation transmitted to the wearer in response to the wearer’s movements and changes in external factors.
The artificial skin can be stretched up to four times its original length for up to a million cycles, making it applicable for a number of real-world applications. So far, the scientists have tested it on users’ fingers and are making improvements to the technology.
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