back to article Salvador Dalí style floppy iPad on the way, seemingly

Engineers in California say they have developed a way of making touch- and pressure-sensitive material which is also bendy and flexible. The new technology could be used to make flexible touchscreen devices - or, its designers say, to build robotics or prosthetics capable of such delicate tasks as handling eggs or emptying …


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  1. James 5

    So ...

    .. a new source of toilet paper then.

  2. James Hughes 1


    "Organic materials are poor semiconductors, which means electronic devices made out of them would often require high voltages to operate the circuitry,"

    Sooo, how does real skin work then? Pretty sure we don't have high voltages inside, and skin is definitely organic....

    1. Xander Dent


      Most of the pressure sensing in your skin is actually done chemically, not electrically.

      Your skin is not a semiconductor, you great tit.

    2. BorkedAgain

      Massive dev overheads

      Billions of years of Darwinian R&D, essentially.

      (Or, if you prefer, an omniscient, infinitely-capable sky-fairy "inventor")

    3. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Skin

      Human skin has a rather large computer attached to it that can take dishes out of the washer without breaking them at the same time as worrying about how the plot line on Eastenders will develop.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        The computer attached to the human's skin varies greatly depending on the human. Some have deficiencies in hardware, software or both that lead to a complete inability to perform tasks such as unloading a dishwasher simultaneous with any form of contemplation.

        The neat part about robots is that once you get the programming and hardware design right the failure rate is significantly lower. As is the performance variability of the operating unit. The downside is that you tend to get a shorter cumulative operational lifespan given the limitations of current materials technology. Additionally; wetware regenerates minor to moderate damage. Robots do not.

  3. proto-robbie
    Jobs Halo

    All hail...

    ...the Jesus Hand. Going where angels fear to tread.

  4. amanfromearth
    Dead Vulture


    Thanks for making me read this useless report. It's got absolutely *nothing* to do with iPads..

    1. Thomas 18
      Jobs Horns

      Your right,

      its about developing new technology instead of just repackaging old technology and slapping a shiny logo on the top

  5. Steve the Cynic


    In fact, the problem for correct handling of eggs, wine glasses, and stock pots with the same hand (not all at once, thanks) lies not in knowing how much pressure one is exerting, nor how much the thing weighs, but how much pressure the object can withstand. Fancy pressure-sensitive "skin" won't help with that problem.

    1. Steven Knox

      Not so

      The problem is not primarily in how much pressure the object can withstand, but how much pressure is necessary in order to hold the thing without it slipping.

      WE don't do some magical analysis of the structural integrity of a wine glass or egg when we pick it up. We simple close our hand around it until we feel enough pressure to counteract the force of gravity.

      We also don't always get it right, especially on the first try. When we break an egg because we used too much pressure, we remember that and try a little less next time. When we drop an egg because we used too little pressure, we remember that and try more next time.

      Central to all of this is knowing how much pressure is being exerted. If we don't know how much we're exerting, how is knowing the acceptable amount going to help? As an analogy, a 30Mph speed limit sign doesn't help you much if your speedometer's broken.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      ' for correct handling of eggs, wine glasses, and stock pots' make sure the wife/girlfriend does it.


  6. Doug Glass

    Limp Huh?

    Why does that not surprise?

  7. Seanie Ryan

    at last

    we might finally see the type of video phones used in Earth Final Conflict. The modern day Kirk Communicator.

    powered by FaceTime of course !!! :-)

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  9. JShel

    Thank you, no...

    I'm still waiting for the monkey butlers

  10. Blain Hamon
    Dead Vulture

    Flexible pressure-sensative skin,

    Something that really can help people who use prosthetics (or even in space, where you can't have unshielded hands), and all you can think about is making yet another iDevice reference?

  11. Mike VandeVelde

    will wonders never cease

    "also bendy *and* flexible"

    Bendy, and also flexible. Whodathunk.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    lazy b*****ds

    oh come on now...having a dishwasher in itself is lazy enough . pop the stuff in for a few days, add tablet and press go... no more slaving over a sink with the old fairy liquid... but a ROBOT as well to help unload it?? thats just laziness.

    I think predictions that all humans will become nothing more than a blob with an appendage able to control a remote are getting accurate...

  13. Ginolard
    Paris Hilton

    Sexist? Me?

    But I've already got a soft and flexible machine for emptying the dishwasher.

    Girlfriend 2.0 etc

    Paris because she's flexible. Apparently.

    1. rciafardone


      We have irrefutable video records that show she is indeed flexible.

  14. Shaun Roe

    Adult entertainment

    The pr0n industry will no doubt find a use; high-end (fnarr fnarr) touch enabled sex toys?

  15. alan lovedog

    tactile feedback

    perhaps in the future this can be used to give touchscreen devices tactile feedback - which the currently sorely lack.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    "historically, they have been inflexible and easy to crack" pro-grade 3D editors?

  17. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


    Anyone who puts the good crystal in the dishwasher deserves to have it broken by the robot butler. Barbarians.

  18. Martin Budden


    Ever wondered why we have fingerprints? They exist (in conjunction with vibration sensors) so we can apply just enough grip pressure to pick up an object without it slipping. We grasp the object gently at first, then start the lifting movement: as slippage starts the ridges of the fingerprints cause vibrations as they slip (stick-release-stick-release), the vibration is sensed by specialised nerves, and grip pressure is increased gradually until slippage vibration stops. All this happens in the blink of an eye. Clever.

    If we can work out a way for a robot to detect slippage and react quickly enough, there's no reason why a robot shouldn't be able to cope with both wine glasses and stockpots.

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