A recent INVERSE article discussed a new electronic skin that could very well outperform human skin with regard to sensitivity. The super-sensitive skin was developed by mechanical engineers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University who hopes to use it for robotic applications, to improve touch-screen interfaces, and restore the sense of touch in humans. It consists of two thin flexible fabric electrodes that encapsulate a layer of sponge-like material impregnated with ion-sensitive liquid. The combination creates a capacitor that can sense pressure changes and extremely sensitive differences in charge between the electrodes.
The team tested the skin on a robotic finger and measured the capacitance signal, aka the ability to store an electrical charge, while touching various objects. Results showed that the skin could detect objects before actually making contact with them as the capacitance variance can reveal information about size, surface area, and density. Though in its current form, the skin is unable to detect temperatures, the team believes adding that function should be fairly easy.