SkinBot is a lightweight robot that moves over the skin with a suction-based moving mechanism to capture a range of body parameters. The researchers believe a robot that has the capability to live on our skin could offer more information about the human body and advance areas such as telemedicine, body care and human-computer interactions.
Although health wearables can capture and monitor different body measurements, many devices still require direct manipulation of an expert. To address these limitations, SkinBot’s objective is to provide digitalized information about the body. With its lightweight design, and ability to move and adhere to skin, the SkinBot has sensor capabilities that allow it to communicate with a central unit to achieve complex tasks.
SkinBot consists of two main parts that include a two-legged suction-based locomotion system and an exchangeable multipurpose sensing module. The researchers also used an in-house 3D printer to create the suction cups. The pressure sensor on each of the cups detects if the cup is attached to the skin. The movement process is controlled by a 21-state machine implemented on a microcontroller. Four micro servo motors and two vacuum pumps also help SkinBot move.
In order to capture a multitude of body parameters, the researchers developed an interchangeable sensing module that can be replaced for different applications. This includes several modules consisting of a three-axis accelerometer, a skin-facing RGB camera and a magnet-based grip to attach other existing biosensors. In addition, the cups also serve as electrodes that can capture electrical properties of the body such as electrodermal activity from the wrist or chest.
Researchers hope the SkinBot can help provide doctors with more in-depth clinical assessments. For instance, the motion sensors can measure subtle cardiac and respiratory motions from the chest, while the skin-facing camera can be used to take photos of skin anomalies. Additionally, SkinBot can move to different places on the body in order to monitor body posture, walking technique and respiratory signals during sleep. The modules have also been developed to promote long-term healthcare that can monitor skin hydration and eventually apply lotion when needed.
Overall, the researchers hope SkinBot can become an integral part of healthcare and even the body care and fashion industry.