Very interesting! Is there any indication of the degree of proportional response, i.e. the sensitivity of the measurement? The resolution and response time are certainly far beyond human touch capabilities. If the proportional response is in the same ballpark as the other specs there should be quite a few possibilities for this technology.
The authors claim that light output is directly proportional to the stress on the piezo-material--here zinc oxide, which is know to very sensitive. Also it will work with other piezo-electric materials, so you could probably design a material to meet most engineering needs.
Very interesting reading. If this is a big success, robots could be in stores quicker than I imagined. I still believe that within the next few years a customer will be able to go to a store and buy a robot just like you purchase a computer or other devices. The cost of the robot will be based on the memory chip, the robots artificial real-like skin that can sense touch, and the robot features. My only recommendation is that it should be sold in a specialty store and only qualified workers who are trained and know the advantage and disadvantage of what a robot can do. Some type of certification and training should be required. Yes, a Robot Certification. OK engineering executives, I just gave you a wonderful idea.
Not being a specialist in biology, I'm curious about how these specs stack up to human sensitivity: "Wang's team grew 2.7 micron diameter zinc-oxide nanowires into arrays that were able to sense touch with a resolution of 6,300 dots per inch and a switching time of 90 milliseconds." Anyone?
The authors claim their prototype offers sensitivity "comparable" to humans plus that next they are improving them by growing even smaller nanowires. However, the big boon for robotics will be their ability to assemble things they can't today. In particular, robots are not good at putting in screws, because their fingers cannot sense when the threads are properly lined up. Robotic skin with built-in touch sensors like these could solve that problem.
All of the current robot makers have training programs for operators, although most don't call it certification (for instance, DaVinci surgical robots go to lengths to say its not certification--but I think that is to deflect lawsuits :)
I'm no expert on the biology, but 6,300 dpi and 90 millisec are far beyond the specs that I would expect to see if they did the same tests on me. On the other hand, maybe I'm just insensitive and a little on the slow side... :-)
It seems like this could also go beyond robotics. There are other places where a touch-sensitive surface can be used for input. A touchpad for a laptop that could distinguish a user by fingerprints, for example.
Blog Doing Math in FPGAs Tom Burke 2 comments For a recent project, I explored doing "real" (that is, non-integer) math on a Spartan 3 FPGA. FPGAs, by their nature, do integer math. That is, there's no floating-point ...