From electric light bulbs to e-skin

From electric light bulbs to e-skin

Welcome to the 99 new techies who have joined us since last Friday. If you haven’t already, subscribe and join our community in receiving weekly tech insights, updates, and interviews with industry experts straight to your inbox.

This week we’re quoting Ugochukwu Aronu (Founder at Wicrypt)

What Aronu said:

“The feeling was like nothing I had ever experienced before.”

What feeling?

He was describing the moment when his startup won the Into New Worlds award at LEAP 2023.

But as is often the case when we chat with innovators from the LEAP community, those words sent our minds wandering.

How many times has technology given people a feeling that’s unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before?

Imagine what it felt like to switch on an electric light bulb in your home for the very first time. Or to step onto an aircraft and fly, when flying was a new possibility for humanity. Imagine being the first diver to explore deep water with scuba gear. And you probably remember the first time you logged on to the World Wide Web, accessing a whole new dimension of information and opportunity.

But new tech-enabled experiences aren’t a thing of the past

The reality is we’re only just getting started. New frontiers are on the horizon in every direction – and all of us will continue to experience the awe and wonder of new technology.

We’ll give you an example

Engineers at the City University (CityU) of Hong Kong are working on a technology called e-skin. And it could bring human touch into our digital lives.

Soft and wireless, e-skin is being developed to replicate human skin. It’s packed with flexible actuators that can sense the wearer’s movements – and convert those movements into electrical signals.

Sounds kind of cool (and maybe a little bit unsettling), doesn’t it?

But the potentially life-changing thing is that the signals can then be sent to another e-skin system, using existing Bluetooth technology. The actuators on the receiving e-skin convert the signals into mechanical vibrations that mimic the movements made by the sender.

So researchers suggest the system could allow people to feel each other’s touch. Over the internet, across long distances.

Touch communication is the next step in VR/XR experience

CityU quoted Dr Yu Xinge (Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering), who said:

“With the rapid development of virtual and augmented reality, our visual and auditory senses are not sufficient for us to create an immersive experience. Touch communication could be a revolution for us to interact throughout the metaverse.”

There are already lots of haptic interfaces on the market – products that simulate the sensations of physical touch in virtual settings. But they only offer touch sensing, or haptic feedback – you can’t have an interactive, communicative touch experience with another human being.

E-skin changes that. It self-senses the wearer’s movements and reproduces haptic sensations on the same interface – and can transmit sensations to a connected interface, somewhere else in the world.

It opens up the potential to touch and hug your loved ones from the other side of the world. And that would be a feeling like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

Truth: here at LEAP, we have mixed opinions about the tech. We don’t all love the idea of e-skin communication. But we know one thing for sure:

Awe is a good thing for human beings

Whether this specific technology fills you with excitement or grosses you out is sort of besides the point. What it shows us is that tech will continue to deliver new, previously unimaginable, and awe-inspiring experiences.

Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something that exceeds or expands our current understanding of the world. And it’s a really good feeling for human beings to feel.

In medical research, awe has been recognised as a pathway to mental and physical health, because it engages five processes:

  • Neurophysiological shifts
  • A reduced focus on the self
  • An increase in a sense of connection with others
  • Greater social integration
  • A heightened sense of meaning

So whether it’s e-skin, electric light bulbs, immersive games, exploring a mind-expanding tech event, or something else entirely – we should all give in to the potential of tech to awaken our sense of awe. It’s good for us.

Read our interview with Ugochukwu Aronu: Wicrypt’s experience at LEAP.

One more thing...👀

Head over to LEAP's quarterly digital magazine - LEAP Forward to get your copy of the two latest articles ⬇

Discover how the Saudi based start-up Polymeron are developing environmentally friendly materials from industrial waste, driving sustainability, and reducing our ecological footprint.

Also, NTDP and SparkLabs Group made a special announcement at LEAP 2023, announcing their partnership to launch a new start-up accelerator in Saudi Arabia. Read about how their aim is to empower and support the next generation of entrepreneurs, by fostering innovation and driving economic growth in the region.

Have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover? We're eager to hear it! Drop us a message and share your thoughts.

Catch you next week,
Richard McKeon
Marketing Director

P.S. - Mark your calendars for LEAP 2024 📅 4-7 March 2024. Want to be a part of the action?


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