Robot Fingertips Create A New Standard For What Products Feel Like

A library of texture

Touchy-feely sensors on a prosthetic hand

SynTouch via Wired

A sensor designed to give prosthetic hands a sense of touch may find another application, in the world of product design and testing.

SynTouch's Biotac sensor detects temperature, pressure and vibration, just like the human fingertip. It even has artificial fingerprints to increase its sensitivity. In one study, the sensors were better than blindfolded humans at feeling the difference between various materials. That could make them ideal for helping companies design products with a precisely determined texture. Wired explains:

If you’re a textile vendor, you can ask a manufacturer to dye a set of sheets a particular color, using a standard such as the Pantone Color Matching System to specify exactly the color you want. But if you try describing how you want those sheets to feel, well, that’s another matter entirely. The process of describing and evaluating textures is often subjective.

Biotac sensors could provide a way for designers and manufacturers to quantify and standardize texture. The "SynTouch Standard" uses 15 factors to evaluate a material, including smoothness, friction, and thermal properties, Wired notes. Head over to their article to read more.