Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering have succeeded in making an artificial fingertip outperform humans in identifying a range of textures. That fingertip, the BioTac® from SynTouch LLC, is a molded elastomeric sleeve with a fingerprint-like pattern on the outside and sensors on the inside, filled with a conductive fluid. What the USC researchers have done is to develop algorithms for interpreting the data produced by the fingertip and for optimizing the movement of the robotic arm or hand on which it is mounted to most efficiently produce useful data. Their findings have been published in Frontiers in Neurorobotics. SynTouch LLC, founded in 2008,
is a start-up technology business that develops and manufactures tactile sensors for mechatronic systems. BioTac® sensors are available as an evaluation kit, and also as kits for the BarrettHand and the Shadow hand.