"Despite decades of research, tactile sensing hasn't moved into general use because it's been expensive and fragile," explained co-creator Leif Jentoft, a graduate student at SEAS, in a news release. "It normally costs about $16,000, give or take, to put tactile sensing on a research robot hand. That's really limited where people can use it. The traditional technology also uses very specialized construction techniques, which can slow down your work. Now, TakkTile changes that because it's based on much simpler and cheaper fabrication methods."
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Researchers plan to license their technology to companies interested in integrating their TakkTile prefabricated sensors into robots, consumer devices and industrial products. Aside from robotics, Jentoft and his colleague Yaroslav Tenzer, a postdoctoral fellow, envision their sensor being used in a variety of electronic devices. For example, toy manufacturers could make stuffed animals that respond to petting. TakkTile could also be used to design medical grippers gentle enough to separate tissue during laparoscopic surgery.