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So Japanese researchers have developed a robotic glove like device that can simulate the sensation of touching someones boobs. Now, before you knock it off as an invention of lonely scientists, there's a serious side and good use to this device. The researchers hope that the device can be used as a training device for medical students to become skilled in breast examinations among other exams that require feeling body parts.
[Image Source: Gifu]
The device makes use of haptic feedback that can simulate realistic tactile sensations in each individual fingertip and hence why the researchers, from Gifu University in Japan, have dubbed their invention a "multi-fingered haptic interface robot."
Getting enough volunteers for examination practice is simply not possible, especially when the student needs to be able to detect lumps in various areas of the body. The haptic device means that one device could replicate limitless situations of lump size and location without the need for hundreds of different silicone models or volunteers who are suffering cancer.
The device constrains the motion of your fingers and hands to replicate various softness and although there is no physical model to look at while performing the hands on examination, the students would watch a 3-D model on screen or even make use of virtual reality glasses.
Fingertips are incredibly sensitive and detect the slightest of nuances so the team certainly had a challenge when it came to simulating touch and softness.
The researchers showed off their invention at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Hong Kong. The IEEE website explains:
To simulate softness, the sheet of gel is stretched by two tiny rollers with a gap between them, so that a strip of gel is suspended in the air. Your finger rests on this strip. By using a motor and a set of gears to move the rollers, the tension on the strip of gel can be increased or decreased. Increasing the tension (pulling the strip tighter) makes it feel harder under your finger, while decreasing the tension (letting the strip get looser) makes it feel softer [see diagram below].
[Image Source: Gifu]