Robots these days, especially humanoids, have one problem: it doesn’t feel nice or lifelike when you touch them. This is where an invention by Japanese robot startup Touchence comes in. Their so-called ShokacCube, made of polyurethane, is the world’s first soft touch sensor specifically designed for robots.
The sensor detects touches in three dimensions and is pressure-sensitive: if used in a humanoid’s cheek, for example, the robot in question can distinguish if that body part is being just lightly touched or pinched. And as the ShokacCube is covered in soft foam and soft and flexible itself, it does away with the usual metallic feeling humans get when touching a robot.
The ShokacCube would particularly make sense when used in therapeutic robots, for example.
Touchence plans to roll out the first samples for ShokacCube type B (type A was released in December last year) next month. The company expects to have a more advanced type C model ready by April 2012.
This video, shot by Diginfonews in Tokyo, provides more insight: