Duct Tape With Brains: Don’t leave Earth without it.

(c) 2018 Codell Criston All Rights Reserved
Every household has a gadget drawer. It’s the first place you look when you need some little problem-solver to accomplish a task. The tool you want will, preferably, enable you to fix-it quickly, easily, and without shifting focus away from your main project.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could pull open your gadget drawer and find a handful of little wraps, capable of undertaking a variety of tasks, depending on what you needed done at the moment? All you would have to do is snuggle one of these compact miracles around your problem and lo! it would be like duct tape imbued with artificial intelligence.
While these gadgets don’t yet exist for household use, a genius woman and her genius team have, in partnership with NASA, developed just this sort of technology, the OmniSkin.
This did not come about as a redneck’s Eureka moment, as one might expect. Ivy Leaguer Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials, fired up her Yale lab and crew, and knocked out an insanely awesome promise of advanced tech that will eventually filter down to the masses.
According to an article featured in the ever-fascinating publication, ScienceDaily, Prof Kramer-Bottiglio was initially inspired by NASA’s interest in developing “soft robotic systems”, devices that are flexible, adaptable, and which can be programmed to complete different kinds of tasks on the fly as needed.
These new robotic skins can be wrapped around an object and programmed to interact with, or manipulate, the object as desired. Once you are done with that task, you can remove the reusable robotic skin and stash it until the next time you need it. You can reprogram it to complete different tasks associated with different objects. Even better, you can layer OmniSkins on an object to achieve more complex effects.
Why would sentient duct tape be of interest to NASA? Precisely for the same reason that duct tape is of interest to you and me. Can you think of anyone more deserving of a cutting edge gadget drawer than a bunch of astronauts spending the summer amidst the clouds of Venus? Reprogrammable robotic skins can be transported cost-effectively in space, where they will be on hand to assist with all kinds of problems and tasks that may arise while in Earth orbit or on the way to a far distant planet.
Want to buy these now? I know I do. I’m not sure NASA carries them in their gift boutique yet though. Patience.
-Yale University. “‘Robotic Skins’ turn everyday objects into robots.” ScienceDailyScienceDaily, 19 September 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/
-Joran W. Booth, Dylan Shah, Jennifer C. Case, Edward L. White, Michelle C. Yuen, Olivier Cyr-Choiniere, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio. OmniSkins: Robotic skins that turn inanimate objects into multifunctional robots. Science Robotics, 2018; 3 (22); eaat1853 DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat1853. <http://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/3/22/eaat1853>

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