Researchers at the National University of Singapore are enhancing robots’ sense of touch by mimicking the ridged and contoured surfaces of human fingertips. Fingerprints, it turns out, don’t just give humans better grip but also carry out a sensitive type of signal processing. By imparting that same kind of signal processing to robots, we could reduce the processing loads to robots’ CPUs and help them better identify objects through their shapes.
The slick touchscreens of our iPhones and Droids are visually magnificent and the epitome of tech chic, but their slick, untextured glass screens don’t resonate with humans’ tactile nature (that’s why some people just can’t kick the hardware button keyboard). Good tactile touchscreens – screens that impart a feeling of touch or texture in sync with a displayed image – have thus far eluded device makers. A new Microsoft project could change all that.
There are all kinds of ways to check your phone for updates like new email, ranging from audible alarms to vibrations to little blinking lights. But how about something more...tactile? A new casing for cellphones encourages you to squeeze your phone--the level of turgidity or flaccidity indicates what's happening inside. It's not as erotic as it sounds.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.