Long term vision
This is enabled by measuring disturbances in the ‘near field’ of advanced electromagnetic metasurfaces which can also be used for ‘far field’ communications. Devices with ultra low-power smart skins can help humans transcend physical limits, leading to a safe and equal-opportunity society with advanced healthcare, increased gender equality and inclusivity of people with disabilities.
For many robotic applications, in particular those where humans also interact, it would be extremely valuable to extend that sense to ‘near touch’, i.e. valid for non-direct contact. This radically new technology would increase safety and interaction possibilities in robot-human interactions, e.g. in future medical care; it will also be part of smart assisted mobility.
The key technology enabling these functionalities is that of metasurfaces, i.e. structured surfaces that have unusual properties at some frequencies. In this case, they convey and manipulate surface waves, which also can be turned into radiating leaky waves for far-field communications.
Transformative effect on society
This will also allow robots to support people with disabilities. In the longer term, equipping humans with smart skins can help them to transcend their own physical limits, which supports inclusivity of people with disabilities and provides continuous health monitoring.