Researchers Draw from 'Star Wars' to Develop Touch-Sensitive Artificial Skin

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A robotic system created by researchers with the National University of Singapore that employs a system to mimic a neural network. (National University of Singapore)

The Force is strong with these scientists.

Researchers in Singapore are working on a type of artificial skin that can replicate the sense of touch for people who use prosthetic limbs, Reuters reported.

The National University of Singapore scientists drew inspiration from Luke Skywalker's highly advanced artificial right hand in "Star Wars," lead researcher Benjamin Tee said.

The character played by Mark Hamill received the artificial hand after losing the body part during a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back."

"When you lose your sense of touch, you essentially become numb ... and prosthetic users face that problem," Tee said, according to Reuters.

"So by recreating an artificial version of the skin, for their prosthetic devices, they can hold a hand and feel the warmth and feel that it is soft, how hard are they holding the hand."

The artificial skin, which is now in the experimental phase, features about 100 sensors on it.

So far, the device, which is only about 1 square centimeter in size, can identify 20-30 textures. It is also able to read Braille at better than 90% accuracy, according to Reuters.

The goal for the device -- which is called Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin (ACES) -- is to give people who use prosthetic limbs the chance to feel sensations such as texture, temperature and pain.

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This article is written by Peter Sblendorio from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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