UNSW Sydney start-up Contactile was part of the team that recently took out the top prize of $50,000 in the Bionic Senses category of Bionics Queensland Challenge 2020. Contactile founders Heba Khamis, Benjamin Xia and Stephen Redmond were the chosen industry partner of project lead Associate Professor, Ajay Pandey of QUT.
Creating a prosthetic device that gives users an accurate sense of pressure, position, and surface deformation in digital form, the team proposed to transform the future of prosthetic devices by embedding innovative touch sensors to create the bionic sense of touch.
“While, restoring and creating bionic senses has been studied for decades, there have been little advances in restoring a sense of touch”, says Heba Khamis, Lecturer at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW Sydney and CEO, Contactile. “Touch is an overlooked sensation, yet it plays a role in every facet of life, both functionally, and emotionally. The Contactile tactile sensor technology aims to help restore a sense of touch for people with prosthetic limbs.”
“Participating in the competition was an important milestone because of its focus on bionics, and it fills a gap in the funding pipeline for early stage commercialisation.”
Contactile, launched in June 2019, commercialised tactile sensor technology invented by the three founders Heba Khamis, Benjamin Xia and Stephen Redmond at UNSW. Identifying that inadequate tactile sensing in the gripper fingers means robotic dexterity falls far short of human ability preventing the use of robotics in unstructured environments in numerous industries, the trio’s sensor technology enables robotic grippers to grasp any object with optimal grip force, regardless of object weight, size, and friction.
“We are giving robots a human sense of touch so that they can use their hands just like we do. Our winnings will enable us to develop a prototype prosthetic with Contactile sensors on the fingers that is able to deliver tactile feedback to the prosthetic user, restoring a sense of touch to an upper limb amputee.”
Contactile is currently participating in the UNSW Founders 10x Accelerator.