The evolution of E-Skin technology has been something to behold. It was not too long ago that the only seen practical use for E-Skin was with VR technology. Now people are talking about incorporating E-Skin into the robotics field. There is a big difference between moving a hologram in a VR simulation and having a robot pick up a bag of flour through the sensors in the E-Skin.
The sensor(s) in E-Skin is/are what makes it work. This technology differs from the skin itself, but they have both advanced to where they work in tandem well. These days, a sensor can “tell” the skin how hot an object is, then lets the skin know how much or little pressure is needed to pick up the object and how quickly the “hand” wrapped in the skin should move.
This is obviously suited for robotics or for prosthetic hands. It gives “life” to a limb that, for all intents and purposes, has none. This is where the technology is implemented in ways we may not have thought of yet. Think of everything a hand or arm does via the neural transmitters in your brain. Now think of a layer of skin wrapped around a prosthetic hand that has a sensor in it that allows a person to do the same things that a regular hand can do.
Picture this, if you will: A person with all of their limbs intact puts on a VR headset and slips on some E-Skin. They can now move holographic images projected through the headset. Another person has 2 prosthetic hands. The prosthetics themselves are as advanced as they come. The movements are as realistic as ever. But now, with E-Skin (which, for this example could also be labeled as a prosthetic device) the user can type on a computer keyboard as naturally and effortlessly as they could with all of their born body parts.
These may seem like 2 different technologies incorporated into the same device, but the latter example is just an extension of the former. It is the same technology that has advanced to the point where there are more possible uses than ever before. And as you can see, the uses are becoming more practical. There is still a fun, VR side to it, but there is now a more practical aspect.
Now, just to add more flavor to this smorgasbord of information, E-Skin is also good for the environment. Meaning that if something happens to the skin that makes it no longer longer wearable, there is a solution you can soak it in that separates different qualities so technicians can recycle it in order to make a new skin. If the skin gets cut, it can also heal itself in a matter of 1 hour or less, depending on the temperature of the room.
From self-healing skin to pressure sensitive sensors, the invention of this device (the next generation of wearables, if you will) keeps evolving. New applications of e-skin are being looked forward to everyday.