Why is Facebook/Meta making touch-sensitive electronic skin?

Facebook, now rebranded as Meta, teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to develop ReSkin, a touch-sensitive electronic skin set to advance the use of touch in AI and robotics.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Meta AI (formerly Facebook AI) claim the new tactile sensing skin will increase the sense of touch in robotics, wearables, smart clothing and AI. Its development is part of a wider push from Meta AI into touch and tactile sensing that, amongst other aims, are hoped to deliver more possibilities in augmented and virtual reality.

Researchers working on the project say the open source touch-sensing “skin” is affordable, durable and as easy to apply as a bandage.

In a post on the CMU website, Tess Hellebrekers, a postdoctoral researcher at Meta AI who earned her Ph.D. from CMU's Robotics Institute in 2020, said: "I want this sensing skin to be so robust and simple that anyone could set it up and start gathering touch data within a day."

ReSkin costs less than $600 (about €500) for 100 units and even less for larger quantities. It is 2 to 3mm thick and can last for more than 50,000 interactions.

Abhinav Gupta, an associate professor in the RI and the research manager at Meta AI who worked with Hellebrekers on ReSkin, said: "When it wears out, it can be easily peeled off and replaced with a new one.”

Read the full paper on ReSkin

Top image: ReSkin can help robots get force feedback that stop it squashing delicate objects such as blueberries.
Image and story source: Carnegie Mellon University

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