Japanese researchers put live skin on robots and reproduce facial expressions (video)

Japanese researchers put live skin on robots and reproduce facial expressions (video)

In a study published on June 25, 2024 in the journal Cell Reports Physical SciencesJapanese scientists claim to have developed living skin that can be applied to robotic faces.

With a realistic smile and similar facial expressions, the result is convincing to say the least, if a little disturbing.

Laboratory-grown skin

Let us immediately reassure the most skeptical. No, the skin placed on the robotic faces is not human skin. This is lab-grown skin, made from living cells.

This was created to copy the properties of human skin. So the skin we see in the pictures below is very live skin except that it is applied on a machine. This skin is therefore capable of deformation, elasticity and self-healing as well. Like what we see on the faces of all humans.

It all started with one finger

To reach their current result, he and his team started by using a robotic finger, explained Shuji Takeuchi of the University of Tokyo and lead author of the study.

During previous research on a finger-shaped robot covered with artificial skin tissue implanted in our laboratory, I felt the need for better adhesion between the robotic features and the subcutaneous structure of the skin.The Japanese researcher explained in quoted statements IFLScience.

This subcutaneous structure that Shoji Takeuchi refers to is the ligaments in particular. By being able to imitate them, he and his team were able to develop a skin that can “Connecting complex structures“Which is during the robot’s movements, especially its face.”It can move with the mechanical components of the robot without tearing or peeling off“He explained.

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It is the elasticity and elasticity of the skin that allowed Japanese scientists to plan a skin that can be attached in such a way as to reproduce facial expressions.

To achieve this result, a video of the study is available. Be careful, this can be a little confusing:

Why conduct such an experiment?

It's true that without context, it's hard to imagine a plausible reason to put lab-grown human skin on robots. Especially since the result is enough to fuel some nightmares as well as some dystopias that popular culture likes to show us. Sarah Connor can attest to that.

First, you should know that this is just the beginning. In fact, in comments reported by the BBC, Professor Takeuchi intends to continue experiments in this direction to create “Human expressions by integrating advanced motors or muscles within the robot.“.Always with the aim of achieving compelling realism in man and machine.

Thus, such progress opens the way for future human-like robots that are more realistic and mobile.

Second, having the ability to create living skin would not only have benefits for machines. In fact, such skin capable of attaching to complex structures could also represent progress in the medical field (surgery and plastic surgery), but also in the field of cosmetology, for example, in cosmetic tests, as defined in BBC.

Source: IFL Science/BBC

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