Electronic paper and tactile robots

E Ink technology, popular on e-books like the Kindle and on displays, is now showing up as a highly readable, lightweight (80g), low power display (one week life) phone.  A prototype E Ink-only Android phone was demo’d at Mobile World Congress. The tradeoff is full color for great readability and simplicity in any light. Kind of like silent movies. Watches, anyone?  Springwise Hat tip to TANN Ireland’s Toni Bunting.

Robots with tactile sensors for pressure and adjustable gripping are necessary but at present don’t come cheap–sensors are about $16,000 for a robot hand. The cutely named TakkTile, developed by grad student Leif Jentoft and postdoctoral fellow Yaroslav Tenzer at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, may be the answer. “At the heart of the device is a tiny air pressure-sensitive digital barometer, of the type already commonly used in things like cell phones and GPS units. A layer of rubber is vacuum-sealed onto it.” Beyond robots, uses envisioned are toy animals that respond to being petted and medical devices that assist with surgery. New sensor designed to give robots a gentler touch – on a budget (Gizmag)

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  1. Steve Hards

    “toy animals that respond to being petted” reminds me that the Paro Seal had great responses from older people in Japan but as a commercial proposition they shot themselves in the foot by making them individually handmade and thus very expensive. There would clearly be an older-person market for a much less costly, mass produced robotic pet.

    • Donna Cusano

      The TakkTile sensor, along with an inexpensive artificial skin, might be the ‘Kettering self-starter’ (automobiles) that enables assistance robots, as well as robotic pets, to take off in the mass market.

      • Cathy

        hmmm … maybe – but can we put a vote in now for pets like dogs, cats or rabbits instead of exotic wild beasts like seals? Would that be too pushy do you think? I love the idea of robotic companion pets for those who can no longer deal with litter trays and walkies but a seal just doesn’t really quite work here in the UK … maybe we are just odd!