In order to have the most amazing robot ever, you need all sorts of cool technology to culminate into that one electronic companion. You want it to have lifelike movement. You want it to have speech recognition. And you want it to have skin that lights up when touched. Wait… what?
The immediate applications of this technology might not exactly be entirely clear to the average layman, but researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have designed a unique electronic skin that will effectively light up when you touch it. Cooler still, the level of light is in proportion to how much pressure it detects. Push the skin harder and it lights up brighter.
The skin itself is thinner than a piece of paper and it is made from layers of plastic, along with a pressure-sensitive rubber, conductive silver ink, organic LEDs and thin-film transisters. It’s completely flexible, so it can be wrapped around a variety of surfaces. They have it outfitted with red, green, yellow or blue LEDs at the moment, but this can realistically be whatever color you want.
So, why would such an invention be useful? Fun factor aside, scientists have been actively working on developing materials that are pressure sensitive and could respond to stimuli in the environment. This could prove useful for human prosthetics or health-monitoring systems, but it could mean that we’ll soon have robots that can respond to the most minute of changes to the environment.