Home Science Star Wars Inspired Artificial Skin 'ACES' Can Sense Touch 1000 Times Faster...

Star Wars Inspired Artificial Skin ‘ACES’ Can Sense Touch 1000 Times Faster Than Humans

A Singaporean scientist is working on an artificial skin that can outperform human nervous system in several aspects.

Singaporean scientists are developing an artificial skin to recreate the sense of touch in a way similar to that felt by the human skin. The electronic skin termed as Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin (ACES), it is the brainchild of the scientists of the National University of Singapore, and it’s said to be made up of about 100 small sensors.

According to Reuters, the lead researcher of the project took inspiration from a scene in Star Wars’ episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The scientists claim that this electronic skin possesses the capability of processing information – faster than humans itself. Additionally, it can identify up to 30 different surface textures and read Braille with a whopping 90% accuracy.

Features of ACES

The artificial skin is said to have ultra-high responsiveness and can adapt to damage. It can also be combined with different kinds of sensor surface layers to operate efficiently. Scientist and research team leader, Benjamin Tee stated:

So humans need to slide to feel texture, but in this case the skin, with just a single touch, is able to detect textures of different roughness. When you lose your sense of touch, you essentially become numb… and prosthetic users face that problem. So by recreating an artificial version of the skin, for their prosthetic devices, they can hold a hand and feel the warmth and feel that it is soft, how hard are they holding the hand.

The mechanism of the ACES is driven by a network of sensors connected via a single electrical conductor and is capable of recognizing signals as the human nervous system does. The absence of an interlinked wiring system makes ACES stand apart from existing electronic skins that are susceptible to damage and difficult to scale up. The robustness of the device is an essential feature when it comes to matching up to the level of human skin. Explaining the reason behind this, Tee stated:

Our sense of touch, for example, does not get affected when we suffer a cut. If we can mimic how our biological system works and make it even better, we can bring about tremendous advancements in the field of robotics where electronic skins are predominantly applied.

ACES has been tested to be able to perceive stimulus up to 1000 times faster than a human. The skin’s high fidelity also enables it to identify the shape of different surface forms within ten milliseconds. The report also claims that ACES is capable of differentiating physical contact between sensors “in less than 60 nanoseconds – the fastest ever achieved for an electronic skin technology”.

The striking features of the Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin will perhaps help scientists in improving the intelligent quotient of electronic skins in AI-based robots, prosthetics, and other human-machine interfaces.

Talking about human-machine interfaces, we have seen how Elon Musk’s Neuralink is expected to bring about a revolution in prosthetics.

Muskan Bagrecha
Muskan is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor's in Technology. With a zealous spirit for writing, she finds herself open to the vast realm of learning. She is an avid programmer with a keen interest in technology and science.

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