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January 11, 2023

Spray On Smart Skin

Researchers working with tools at the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network facility at Stanford University have developed a substrate-less interface that can be printed on your hand. When paired with an artificial intelligence model, it can adapt to new users with a small set of gestures.

Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation

Spray On Smart Skin

What if your computer's keyboard was sprayed on the back on your hand like sunscreen? Or you could identify objects simply by touching them? We'll explore the future of virtual reality in the U.S. National Science Foundation's "Discovery Files."

Combining artificial intelligence with a tiny electrical network that senses the movement of your skin, this new technology could have far-reaching benefits in robotics, telemedicine and even gaming.

Using tools at the NSF supported NNCI facility at Stanford, researchers have developed a substrate-less nanomesh, made from biocompatible materials that can be directly printed on a person's hand.

Previously, wrist bands or wearable gloves have needed bulky arrays to decode information from every joint. With this system, complex signals can be used from a single sensor applied using a portable printing system, naturally conforming to the body and transmitting using a wireless Bluetooth module.

This interface is paired with an AI model designed to adapt using a small set of human finger motions from new users.

Like a child, the model quickly learns to identify objects through different interactions. The model is expected to recognize more complex motions by increasing the number of sensor elements.

It allows for future applications in robotics, could be adapted to a face for metaverse, Augmented Reality, or even virtual meetings. The technology could even be used to help control advanced prosthetics, having implications for a world of accessibility.

To hear more engineering and science news, including the researchers making it, subscribe to "NSF's Discovery Files" podcast.

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