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In a move that could provide a crucial boost to our robotic friends
struggling up the near side of the Uncanny Valley, major cosmetics
manufacturer Kao Corporation and a Keio University research team
led by robotics professor Takashi Maeno have developed an artificial
skin that feels just like human skin.
Skin, the largest organ of the human body, consists of a soft layer
of tissue (dermis) covered by a tougher protective layer (epidermis).
The artificial skin developed by Kao and Keio mimics the feel of human
skin with a 1-cm thick “dermis” of elastic silicone covered by a 0.2-mm thick “epidermis” of firm urethane. Countless tiny hexagonal indentations
etched into the urethane epidermis provide it with a very realistic texture.
In a series of unscientific tests, 10 out of 12 people who touched the skin
thought it felt like human skin, while equipment designed to measure the mechanical properties of skin confirmed the artificial skin had characteristics resembling human skin.