Developing Hydrogel Sensors to Tap Human Skin Sensations

A new sensor developed at the University of Toronto can record the sensations of the human skin. The sensor is stretchable, transparent, and is powered by its internal mechanism. The complexity of skin sensations is difficult to tap, but the new ‘AISkin’ sensor could resolve this difficulty. The researchers assert that the distinct properties of this ionic skin sensor could pave way for several advancements. Some of the key areas of applications of this sensor are personal health care, wearable electronics, and robotics. It would be interesting to see the take of medical professionals on the new sensor.

 Development of AISkin Sensor

Meanwhile, the sensor is a type of hydrogel, and it endows excellent adhesive properties. For this reason, it remains intact on the surface of the skin, and doesn’t fall off. Moreover, the biocompatibility and inexpensive costing of AISkin could help in accelerating its manufacturing. Therefore, several researchers are focusing on studying emerging avenues within soft robotics and ionic skin. This factor shall give an impetus to the research conducted at University of Toronto. The researchers used two oppositely-charged, stretchable sheets to develop the AISkin sensor. The combination of positive and negative ions helps in generating a layer known as ‘sensing junction’. This layer helps in tapping the complexities of the skin sensation.

 Similarities to Human Skin Sensor

 Changes in humidity, temperature, and strain results in the motion of ions inside the sensing junction. This motion can be gauged in terms of electrical signals such as current and voltage. Sensing of pressure or heat in the human skin also involves the use of mobile ions. Therefore, the new skin sensor imitates the action of the human skin. This could be an important consideration for analysts giving their feedback on the new technology.