Scientists create an inexpensive prototype for the human skin

February 24, 2016

Scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology(KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have created the first ever working prototype of a human skin. The human skin is a very complex organ and it is very difficult to create a device that properly senses pressure, temperature and humidity like the skin does.

paper skin[Image Source: Aftab Hussain]

What makes this device very interesting is that it is extremely cheap to make. Replicating the human skin involves creating a device that can detect pressure, touch, proximity, temperature, humidity, flow, and pH levels all at the same time. In order to achieve this, one would expect that highly sophisticated sensors and circuits will be used. That does not happen to be the case. This team used common household items such as sticky notes, napkins, aluminum foils and sponges to create the paper skin. The whole device cost only $1,67 to make.

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“Its impact is beyond low cost: simplicity,” according to Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, who is an electrical engineer at KAUST. “My vision is to make electronics simple to understand and easy to assemble so that ordinary people can participate in innovation.”

Compared to various pricey sensors out there, the paper skin looks to be a good alternative with many potential applications. According to test results, it has already been seen that the paper skin performs on the same level as the more expensive sensors currently available.

“Compared with the sophisticated and complex artificial skin platforms found in the literature, Paper Skin not only provides the most functionalities on one platform, including 13-cm range proximity sensing, but also displays improved sensing performances over the highly expensive counterpart materials,” said Joanna Nassar, an electrical engineer at KAUST and the lead author in the research work.

More information on the paper skin can be seen in their research paper.