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Chameleon-Inspired Robot Skin Changes Colors Instantly



South Korean researchers built a chameleon-like robot that can change hues to match its surroundings. The robo-chameleon takes information from its environment in real-time, just like actual chameleons, but the way it reproduces colors on its artificial "skin" is different. The researchers anticipate that the system will be able to read and mimic patterns in the future. If colors and patterns can be duplicated in real-time, it might pave the road for clothing that almost completely conceals the person.


A new robot doesn't have swiveling eyeballs or an excessively long tongue, but it does have the most eye-catching attribute of a chameleon: the ability to change colors on demand.


The robo-chameleon shown by South Korean researchers might easily be mistaken for a children's toy or a real chameleon in body armor, thanks to its cumbersome, segmented design. Neither is the case. It is, in fact, a cutting-edge piece of camouflage technology.

Or, at the very least, cutting-edge for non-magical beings. The synthetic "skin" could be a predecessor to Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks.


Hyeonseok Kim, a co-author of the new Nature Communications research, said he was fascinated by chameleons he had seen in zoos, particularly their ability to change hues. He based the robot on these lizards from the Old World.


There are about 200 species of chameleons now recognized, the majority of which are native to Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot in the Indian Ocean. The hefty Parson's chameleon (Calumma parsonii) can grow to 69 centimeters (27 inches) in length, while the smallest is just shy of 1.4 cm (0.55 in). Their forked feet gripping twigs, roving gaze surveying their nook, they all walk with a hesitant grace.


The researchers had to address two key questions in order to construct a model like this: what will be the input and what would be the output? For starters, like a real chameleon, the robo-chameleon gathers information about its environment through visual cues. The latter read the environment with all-seeing eyeballs. Color sensors are used by the robot to measure the intensity of red, green, and blue light. The colors visible to humans are made up of these fundamental colors.


Then there's the more difficult task of replicating comprehensible pictures. Chameleons use their skin's muscle cells to display a variety of colors.


“Chameleons can change color due to pigment migration and nanocrystal tuning within specialized cells generating structural colors,” said Michel C. Milinkovitch, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Geneva who heads the Laboratory of Artificial & Natural Evolution.

Chameleons use a sophisticated process of pigment distribution and structural wizardry that can't be replicated with existing technology. Humans have a hard time grasping this concept because it demands seeing the skin as a living organ rather than a wrapper around the body.


The robo-chameleon captures the colors of its surroundings and projects them onto its "skin," which functions as a screen for producing colors and patterns using thermochromic liquid crystal ink, a material that responds to temperature changes.


Today, you can buy color-changing mugs with pre-programmed patterns on the internet, but nothing compares to something that changes in real-time based on new information from the surroundings.


Milinkovitch, who was not involved in the current study, described the technology as "amazing," saying that the robo-chameleon may do even more than its wild-born counterparts in several ways.


Real chameleons, for example, cannot blend into any background.


For these lizards, changing hues isn't just about camouflage. There's a growing body of evidence that chameleons utilize it to communicate as well. They may attempt to blend in with their surroundings to avoid predators or to remain undetected by possible prey.


They have been spotted using dazzling, colorful displays to differentiate themselves at other times, particularly when attempting to attract mates or scaring away rivals.


In an email to Mongabay, Kim, the paper's first author, said, "We want to research more advanced artificial camouflage systems by constructing an artificial intelligence-based sensing system that can collect not only color information but also pattern information."


Such developments would be especially beneficial to the military who rely on concealment in their daily operations. Artificial crypsis, often known as concealment, originally appeared in defensive research. Other areas of application include art, architecture, and clothing.


In an email to Mongabay, Kim, the paper's first author, said, "We want to research more advanced artificial camouflage systems by constructing an artificial intelligence-based sensing system that can collect not only color information but also pattern information."


Such developments would be especially beneficial to the military who rely on concealment in their daily operations. Artificial crypsis, often known as concealment, originally appeared in defensive research. Other areas of application include art, architecture, and clothing.


Source: nature.com




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Maina Zaina, Writer and a Virtual Assistant at AVCreativity Studio. She enjoys media entertainment and is an avid fan of "K-Wave". She loves her job because she is exposed to different types of entertainment. She also believes in the saying "If you want to be successful, don't seek success - seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best that you can do" by Jaggi Vasudev


Pamela Elizabeth, Editor-in-Chief at AVCreativity Studio. Earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Secondary Education Major in English. She loves going on little adventures alongside reading good books. She is enthusiastic about her work and ensures that her clients receive the finest service possible.



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