Piezoelectric tech allows tactile sensations to be sent and received

Even there already he Experimental “telehaptic” systems that allow people to send and receive emotions seem overwhelming and awkward. The new one is smaller and better, thanks to the use of piezoelectric devices.

Developed by scientists at South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), the system incorporates a device that is worn on the user’s upper arm. In a typical use-case, one of those devices is carried by the sender and the other is carried by the receiver.

The current model consists of a small electrical field on the back of the hand, which is hard-wired to a thin, flexible piezoelectric element that is also applied to the pad of the index finger. That element is less than 1 mm thick.

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Piezoelectric materials produce an electric current when subjected to stress and vibration. This quality (without a signal) is useful for the sender – when they move their finger-shaped element across the textile surface, the small vibrations are converted into electrical signals that are sent wirelessly to the receiver.

Another quality of piezoelectric materials comes into play. Not only does it generate electricity when it vibrates, but it also vibrates when exposed to an electric current. This means that when the receiver’s device receives the transmission signal, its fingerprint sensor vibrates, reproducing the sender’s signal.

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In the tests carried out so far, the system was able to recognize and reproduce the characteristics of fabrics such as cotton, polyester, spandex and stretch letters, as well as the shape of plastic rods being rolled with the fingers. Signals were transmitted via Bluetooth up to 15 m (49 ft) away with a latency of only 1.55 milliseconds – signals received were 97% consistent with transmitted signals.

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Plans now call for the technology to be refined, perhaps improving its visual resolution, and allowing it to sense and reproduce the sensations of heat and cold.

“Through the simplicity and flexibility of a skin-friendly artificial intelligence device, we have moved forward to establish a foundational environment for developing virtual/augmented reality content,” e said the lead scientist, Hye Jin Kim .

A paper on the study was recently published in the journal NPJ Electronic Engineering.

Source: National Research Council of Science & Technology via EurekAlert


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