In a post on Facebook, Meta's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company's AI team is developing a high-res touch sensor and thin robot skin called ReSkin to let artificial intelligence perceive the world by touch. The news was also announced in a dedicated blog post.
The metaverse the company is working on should provide a close imitation of reality in the virtual world. That is why Meta is developing new sensors to simulate one of the human sensations – the touch.
ReSkin is a deformable elastomer with embedded magnetic particles that create a magnetic field. When it deforms, the surrounding magnetic signal changes. Researchers can measure such changes with magnetometers and translate them into information about the location of the contact or the applied force. Thus, the artificial intelligence that received this data can “sense” the touch. Researchers say that it can help create AI models capable of making careful movements or measuring tactile forces in nature in the future.
The deformable robotic skin is less than 3 millimeters thick and can be used for over 50,000 interactions. It can be used to create robotic arms, tactile gloves and sleeves, and even dog shoes, all of which can help researchers collect tactile data that was difficult or impossible to get before.
ReSkin can also provide high-frequency tactile signals for quick manipulations such as catching, throwing, clapping, etc. When it is worn out, it can be easily removed and replaced.
ReSkin was created in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The authors of ReSkin say that such material is inexpensive to manufacture: it costs less than $6 each at 100 units.
At Facebook Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the company's new developments for the creation of its own metaverse, and also announced the renaming of his corporation, which is now called Meta.