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Peratech has been commissioned by the MIT Media Lab to develop an electronic ‘skin’ that enables robotic devices to detect that they have been touched, as well as where and how hard the touch was.

Key to the sensing technology is Peratech’s quantum tunnelling composite (QTC) materials.

QTC is a new material type that provides a measured response to force and/or touch by changing its electrical resistance – similar to the way a dimmer light switch controls a light bulb.

This enables a simple electronic circuit within the robot to determine touch.

QTCs can be easily formed into unique shapes, including being ‘draped’ over an object much like a garment.

They provide a ‘proportional’ response; in other words, detecting how hard they have been touched.

Using Peratech’s Xy scanning technology, the robot is able to detect where, on a matrix of sensors applied to areas such as the forearms, shoulders and torso, it has been touched.

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