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Robot skin captures super detailed 3D surface images

Lydia Leavitt, @lydialeavitt
August 10, 2011
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Remember those awesome pin art toys where you could press your hand (or face) into the pins to leaving a lasting impression? Researchers at MIT have taken the idea one (or two) steps further with "GelSight," a hunk of synthetic rubber that creates a detailed computer visualized image of whatever surface you press it against. It works as such: push the reflective side of the gummy against an object (they chose a chicken feather and a $20 bill) and the camera on the other end will capture a 3-D image of the microscopic surface structure. Originally designed as robot "skin," researchers realized the tool could be used in applications from criminal forensics (think bullets and fingerprints) to dermatology. The Coke can-sized machine is so sensitive, it can capture surface subtleties as small as one by two micrometer in surface -- finally solving the mystery of who stole the cookies from the cookie jar. (Hint: we know it was you Velvet Sledgehammer).





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