While Doctor Connors in the latest Spider-Man film tries growing new limbs using lizard DNA – with typically gruesome consequences – real doctors are playing it safe with robot limbs. The BioTac finger is actually better than the real thing, with an ability to recognise 117 different textures, some of which humans failed to spot.
The BioTac finger is built up from a bone-like centre, surrounded by a liquid filling and wrapped in a soft, flexible skin. Contained in the core is a vibration sensor that detects variations in surface texture – the BioTac even has a fingerprint to help improve sensitivity. When tested against humans it could detect variations in similar textures that left the fleshy meat bags baffled.
We’re looking forward to upgrading our fingers in the future – or even using avatar robots that offer accurate feedback. But the discovery from the University of Southern California is still in its early stages, so don’t expect to start shaking hands with bone-crushing-yet-sensitive upgraded humans anytime soon.
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