Electro-tacticle fingertip sensor (via UIUC)
Today has never been a better day for those who have careers in the medical field. On top of that nice paycheck, they get to have all the latest gadgets with cutting-edge technology, such as the University of Illinois electro-tactile silicon finger-tip circuit that provides vibration feedback for multiple uses.
The Urbana-based engineering team, led by Professor John Rogers, designed the tactile feedback finger-tip by fabricating layers of interconnected gold electrodes on a silicon substrate. These sheets are then ‘lifted’ from the substrate onto a PDMS slab (Polydimethylsiloxane stamp). The slab and underside of the electrodes are then coated with a thin layer of SiO2 (silicon dioxide) and then pressed onto a sheet of Ecoflex (elastomeric silicone). The silicon finger is actually turned inside-out when the process of ‘stamping’ the electrodes is applied to the finger-tip. When the process is finished, the finger-tip is then reversed back to ‘outside-right’ in order to have direct contact with the wearer’s skin. The elastic-circuitry can be implemented into a host of uses such as surgical-gloves that would give the surgeon feedback on the tissue being worked on based on electrical resistance. A surgeon could then shave ultra-fine layers of tissue (such as cancerous cells) using a high frequency alternating electrical current supplied to the finger-tip by a wrist mounted battery.
Of course, this new elastic technology is not limited to the medical field exclusively; as a company called MC10 is looking to use the stretchable circuitry to integrate into stretchable solar-cells that could be used as helmet covers and rucksack liners that would provide soldiers with extra power for communications and gadgets. This sensor could be adapted for use with Nathan Burba’s (University of Southern California) Project Holodeck which could provide tactile feed-back on objects ‘in-game’ making VR-gaming seem more realistic. The possibilities are endless.