Surgeons could one day restore lost feeling in humans by using artificial skin that's been augmented with flexible sensors, and a new development from researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology may bring that closer to reality. The research team has developed a flexible sensor that can detect touch, temperature, and humidity — and can reportedly be built at a low cost. Lead researcher Hossam Haick told the American Technion Society that it is the first artificial skin sensor built with the ability to detect temperature and humidity, and that its touch sensitivity is 10 times greater than any electronic skin that came before it.
Even though it's the first artificial skin sensor to record temperature and humidity, the researchers say that it can sense them quite accurately, reporting back with only a small margin of error for each. The technology is based on gold nanoparticles that are mounted to metal and a flexible plastic. According to the Technion Society, varying the thickness of that plastic can increase or decrease the sensor's overall sensitivity. That setup apparently allows the device to run off of common low-voltage batteries as well — an important trait for what will eventually be a portable sensor. The researchers have already built a prototype of the flexible device, and they believe that it will eventually be adaptable into various types of electronic skin.