Very often in science fiction films, we can see how scientists with the help of high technology can create things that give people superpowers. And it may sound like something unbelievable, but a group of German researchers could actually do something similar. True, Tony Stark’s abilities are far away from Tony Stark’s abilities, but now you can give an opportunity to easily navigate the terrain in the absence of smartphones and in general any other navigation devices today. And all this thanks to a special e-skin.
Behind the development are researchers from the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf, and they themselves call their invention “the bionic analogue of the compass.” It is a silver polymer with a thickness of only one thousandth of a millimeter and is able to pick up the magnetic field of the Earth. As the lead author of the study Gilbert Santiago Canyon Bermudez said
“The film is equipped with sensors that detect the magnetic field. We are talking about 40-60 microtesla, that is, 1000 times weaker than the magnetic field of a typical magnet on your refrigerator. Previously, such sensors required the connection of external magnets. This time the sensors allow the owner to constantly determine their orientation in space. And if the carrier changes its position, the sensors fix it. ”
The device itself works due to the anisotropic magnetoresistive effect (AMR), which means, as the authors explained, that the electrical resistance of the polymer layers varies depending on their orientation relative to the external magnetic field.
During a series of experiments, technology has proven its effectiveness. The electronic skin was attached to the test subject’s finger and in the open space he had to follow a certain route. In general, he had to go first to the north, then to the west, to the south and, when moving east, to return to the starting point. At the same time, the route was not a “square”, but was winding and it was necessary to focus only on the sensor readings. Subject perfectly coped with the task.
“This experience shows that we were able to develop the first soft and ultra-thin portable sensor that can replace the functions of the compass and give people sensitivity to the determination of magnetic fields.”
Such a “topographic superpower” can be useful not only when traveling, but also in medical practice for patients suffering from disorientation in space.