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Artificial throat may give voice to the voiceless

Reporter
Irina Robu, PhD

Flexible sensors have fascinated more and more attention as a fundamental part of anthropomorphic robot research, medical diagnosis and physical health monitoring. The fundamental mechanism of the sensor is based on triboelectric effect inducing electrostatic charges on the surfaces between two different materials. Just like a plate capacitor, current is produced while the size of the parallel capacitor fluctuations caused by the small mechanical disturbances and therefore the output current/voltage is produced.

Chinese scientists combine ultra sensitive motion detectors with thermal sound-emitting technology invented an “artificial throat” that could enable speech in people with damaged or non-functioning vocal cords. Team members from University in Beijing, fabricated a homemade circuit board on which to build out their dual-mode system combining detection and emitting technologies.

Graphene is a wonder material because it is thinnest material in the universe and the strongest ever measured. And graphene is only a one-atom thick layer of graphite and possess a high Young’s modulus as well as superior thermal and electrical conductivities. Graphene-based sensors have attracted much attention in recent years due to their variety of structures, unique sensing performances, room-temperature working conditions, and tremendous application prospects.

The skin like device, wearable artificial graphene throat (WAGT) is as similar as a temporary tattoo, at least as perceived by the wearer. In order to make the device functional and flexible, scientists designed a laser-scribed graphene on a thin sheet of polyvinyl alcohol film. The device is the size of two thumbnails side by side and can use water to attach the film to the skin over the volunteer’s throat and connected to electrodes to a small armband that contained a circuit board, microcomputer, power amplifier and decoder. At the development phase, the system transformed subtle throat movements into simple sounds like “OK” and “No.” During the trial of the device, volunteers imitated throat motions of speech and the device converted these movements into single-syllable words.

It is believed that this device, would be able to train mute people to generate signals with their throats and the device would translate signals into speech.

SOURCE
https://www.aiin.healthcare/topics/robotics/artificial-throat-may-give-voice-voiceless?utm_source=newsletter

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