We use our sense of touch to interact with each other and with our environment. It has been said that of all the senses, if lost, touch has the most detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. With the absence of a tactile sense, humans are no longer able to control objects, or even their own limbs, without significant visual feedback and effort, as well as losing the ability to meaningfully interact and communicate with each other physically. The sense of touch is an essential part of autonomous independent existence and has a significant role in emotional interaction between humans.
The mechanics of the fingertip skin, on both the macro and micro scale, have vital and often overlooked roles to play in our sense of touch. By exploiting some key features of the skin we aim to gain new tactile sensor designs that have the same high compliance needed to be highly sensitive and detailed tactile sensors and strength to be capable and versatile gripping and manipulating tools.