Until now, humanity has had a one-up on emerging technologies. Human beings have the power of touch. They sense textures and temperatures. This sense is also incredibly subjective. One robotics company in Southern California looks to change that.
SynTouch, the company responsible for imbuing robots with a sense of touch, developed out of the robotics lab at the University of Southern California. Their mission? To allow robots to touch the world as humans do. Robots continue to weave themselves into every facet of modern society. They work in close proximity to humans. Engineers at SynTouch say that giving this sense to machines acts as a safety measure. They know when surfaces are too hot or too cold for human skin. Their grip changes depending on if they grasp a pillow or a crowbar.
Something as complex as an artificial sense of touch took years to develop. Unlike a human being’s sense of touch, these SynTouch robots don’t rely on nerves. Their sensations come from super-sensitive electrodes covered with a skin of stretched silicon. An injection of saline solution goes in the space between the two layers. Whenever a robotic finger comes into contact with a surface, the electrodes measure the change in pressure in the saltwater. By using this process, developers at SynTouch work to create a database of textures, temperatures, and other tactile measurements.
This innovation is bound to cause a stir in people from all walks of life. People may point to this as a pivotal moment in the development of revolutionary technologies. Pessimistic futurists may point to this moment as evidence that humanity’s days are truly numbered. Either way, there is no denying the importance of this latest leap forward. What do you think? Is it dangerous to give artificial intelligence the ability to sense touch? Is it another step forward in making technology work for humanity? Share your thoughts about this exciting development in the world of robotics.