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90 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2020 In today's ever-increasing robotic world, future robots will need more human features to properly integrate comfortably into our soci- ety, especially if they are to have direct skin to skin contact with humans. With the added power of artificial intelligence (AI), robots will be able to increasingly perform more human- like functions. One example of improved sen- sory applications is the fingertips on a robotic hand. Through touch, the hand requires it to sense temperature, pressure, pain, and even air flow for proper human-like operation. Inventive applications of flex circuits and sim- ple sensors integrated with robotic skin like silicon can emulate a human's highly sensory fingertips. To sense touch, we can use a resistive layer and connections to a microprocessor, which would be similar to a touchpad on your lap- top. The resistor touchpad would allow the computer to know the position of the touch, as well as pressure sensing. The resistive layer could be printed on a flex layer with a skin-like latex, protective outer surface. Pres- sure would change the resistance, telling the AI smart robot to squeeze lighter or heavier. Alternatively, they can use capacitance, like the touch-key screen on your computer, to sense the position of touch on their fingers, as well as pressure. To sense temperature, we can silk screen or implant resistive or chip temperature sensors on the flex layers connected to a microproces- sor to measure finger temperature due to resis- tive or pulse output changes. A layer of ther- mally conductive skin material could transport the heat inward quickly. The microprocessor would compare the resistive reading to a look- up scaling chart and quickly generate an accu- rate temperature reading. Future Flex Circuits as Robot Skin Sensors Consider This by John Talbot, TRAMONTO CIRCUITS

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