Scientists have managed to create and implement living skin for robots. Their aim is to make these robots more approachable in the service and medical industries. Robotics has made many leaps and bounds into the territory of creating believable androids, this is just one more step in that direction.
While human skin has been successfully recreated for skin grafts and burn victims, this discovery is purely for robots. To create the skin solution, Japanese scientists mixed collagen and human dermal fibroblasts. The skin is water repellant and self healing. Professor Shoji Takeuchi at the University of Tokyo is the lead author on the study. He believes that living skin is the “ultimate solution” for giving humanoid robots a realistic appearance. They note that they could take this even further by incorporating things like hair follicles, nails, or sweat glands. Refining the details of the skin could be key in getting people to interact with them.
There is a fine line between what is realistic and what falls into the uncanny valley. Uncanny valley is when things are meant to look real but fail to do so, making it creepy and giving people a general uneasiness when looking at them. South China Morning Post has released a video of what the skin looks like when covering a robotic finger. They go into detail on how it was made and applied, and show off some of its self healing capabilities. What would be really interesting is if we could get this applied to Sophia the robot who can use facial expressions. Or maybe that poor child robot that can feel pain.