Artificial skin can feel the pain

AustraliaResearchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have created a new skin type that can emulate and feel human pain.

Madhu Bhaskaran, a professor of engineering at RMIT University and lead researcher of the project, said the skin is made from silicone rubber, has a texture similar to real leather and “works in a similar way to the skin. real”.

This research could lead to breakthroughs in applications in the manufacture of prosthetics and robots.

Like real human skin, artificial skin will react when exposed to pressure, temperature or cold that exceeds pain threshold.

Electronic circuits are attached to the outer layers to help this skin respond to irritation.

“The interesting thing about our body is that it works by sending signals to the central nervous system, similar to how electronic circuits work at the same rate,” Bhaskaran explained. .

When we touch something hot, the receptors in the skin send signals to the brain via nerves. Then the brain sends signals to stimulate the reflex. For example, the body will perform chi recovery that is affected by temperature.

With a similar mechanism of action, Bhaskaran said, when one of the sensors attached to the artificial skin feels pain, it sends a signal to parts of the brain that are similar to the structure of the brain. The unit will then activate to perform the reflection.

What is important is the pain threshold. Although we constantly perceive stimuli, we only react when stimuli exceed pain thresholds, such as very hot touching. The brain and skin will compare stimuli and determine which ones are considered dangerous. When studying artificial skin, the scientists set similar thresholds for electronic devices constructed similar to the human brain.

As a result, the artificial skin can distinguish it to react properly between light touch or puncture by a needle.

Artificial skin can help create prostheses that respond to pain like human limbs, thereby allowing users to avoid potential hazards.

Illustration artificial skin. Image: RMIT University

“We have made great achievements in prosthetics, but are just focusing on simulating movements. Since prostheses usually don’t have skin, they don’t sense any clues,” says Bhaskaran. “The addition of an extra layer of skin helps these parts come alive.”

Steve Collins, an expert in prosthetic and exoskeletal fabrication at Stanford University in the US, says: “When a person loses their limbs, they lose not only bones, muscles but also sensory organs. “Until now, people have only focused on structures and movement when making prosthetics, but feeling may be the most important factor in making these prostheses more realistic.”

Peter Kyberd, a professor of engineering at the University of Portsmouth, who created the world’s first microprocessor-controlled prosthesis in 1998, says he finds the study interesting.

“Most of the efforts to improve prosthetics have not been successful, as users often underestimate these products,” he said.

He added that the artificial leather used so often in prosthetics is a long process.

Artificial leather is also capable of being used in skin grafting. This can be a temporary remedy until real skin heals, or it can be a permanent remedy when using real skin is not feasible. This artificial skin can also be used in smart surgical gloves, helping to retain the feeling that is often lost from the use of conventional gloves.

The most anticipated application is in robotics. The use of artificial skin capable of sensing pain will not only make the robot more lifelike, but this is a step forward both in terms of technology and philosophy when robots are capable of sensing pain. .

Bhaskaran said this is a very promising idea, but still focuses on the immediate goals: “For now, we need to work closely with biomedical researchers to realize the next steps. The goal is to create more vivid products that can be applied to real life.

Hai Chi (According to the CNN)


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