Best Inventions 2005: Thin Skins

The Right Touch
Inventor: Takao Someya
Availability: Prototype only
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The key to making artificially intelligent robots lies in giving them plenty of ways to gather information about their environment. Takao Someya, a researcher at the University of Tokyo, has created an electronic film—made up of bendable, shock-resistant transistors embedded in plastic—that can detect pressure and temperature. The sheet, known as a "large-area sensor array," is flexible enough to cover small objects and could give robots a sense of touch. Another potential use:...

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