Solar-powered skin for prosthetic limbs

It offers a better sense of touch, temperature and texture, say researchers

Amputees with prosthetic limbs may soon get a better sense of touch, temperature and texture, thanks to the energy-saving power of the sun, British researchers said on Thursday.

While prosthetics are usually fully powered using batteries, a new prototype from University of Glasgow researchers opens up the possibility for solar-powered skin, which would include better sense capabilities than current technology.

Ravinder Dahiya, a research fellow at the university, said the technology involves installing a thin layer of pure carbon around a prosthetic arm, hand or leg.

This allows light to pass through it and be easily used as solar energy, the researchers said. The sun can provide up to 15 times more energy than is usually needed to power a prosthetic limb, Mr. Dahiya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. This extra and renewable energy can be used to power sensors that increase sense and feeling in a limb, so much so that the prosthetic can feel pressure, temperature and texture like natural skin.

The technology could also increase the functionality of robots, allowing them to have a better understanding of what they touch.

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