If you go to your doctor for a medical test like an ultrasound, a trained radiologist has to carefully place the wand on different places on your body in order to get a complete image. They can’t just put it on your chest in any old place and still get results. That means that even that common procedure requires the time of appropriately-trained medical professionals. SkinBot, developed by researchers at the MIT Media Lab, can crawl across your body on its own and alleviate the workload of physicians in the process.
SkinBot’s standout feature is a pair of small suction cup feet that it can use to cling to your skin. The feet are actuated, so it can wobble around your body while remaining firmly attached to your skin. The idea is that it can automatically move to the appropriate part of your body to take a specific sensor reading, and doesn’t require direct manipulation by a physician. SkinBot’s hardware is simple and affordable, which is in stark contrast to modern surgical robots that might be used for the same purpose.
Sensors can be swapped, so SkinBot could theoretically take your pulse and blood pressure readings and then perform an ultrasound. Aside from those medical applications, SkinBot could also have potential as a human-computer interface, in fashion, or in body care. Imagine the possibilities of a robot that could apply your makeup for you, or give you a tattoo. Sure, you probably don’t want a robot tattooing you, but the point is that SkinBot’s unique capabilities would make it possible.