Gelsight, Meta AI aim to 'democratize' digital tactile sensing

November 08, 2021 // By Rich Pell
Gelsight, Meta AI aim to 'democratize' digital tactile sensing
Tactile imaging and sensing technology company GelSight has announced a partnership with Meta (formerly Facebook) AI to commercially manufacture a high-resolution tactile sensor and expand the field of tactile sensing research.

Designed and open-sourced in 2020 by Meta (then Facebook) AI researchers to enable AI and robotics researchers to work with touch, the sensor - called DIGIT - is offered as a reliable, low-cost, compact, high-resolution tactile sensor designed for robotic in-hand manipulation. GelSight will manufacture and sell DIGIT as part of its offering of digital tactile sensors, making this sensor even more accessible to the global research community.

While other human senses such as sight and hearing have already been replicated in robotic applications, say the companies, touch is the next sense that will be digitized to enable robots to perform tasks they were previously unable to do. GelSight develops and sells technology for digital tactile sensing with the sensitivity and resolution of human touch. The company offers unique elastomeric and imaging-based tactile sensing technology that also enables robotic engineers to develop solutions for complex object manipulation and many other dexterous tasks.

Digitizing touch will enable not only new applications in robotics, say the companies, but in industrial applications that require surface and texture understanding. This includes robotic inspection for quality assurance, material properties identification, manufacturing, and assembly process efficiency, and much more.

“GelSight and the Meta AI research team share the same vision around making tactile sensing technology more accessible,” says Youssef Benmokhtar, CEO of GelSight. “Our technology and this partnership will help generate new applications for robotics as engineers, hobbyists and researchers will have access to a small form factor, imaging-based technology at a more accessible price point than ever before.”

Roberto Calandra, Meta AI research scientist adds, "Since we first open-sourced DIGIT last year, it's been exciting to see researchers use the sensor in their work. GelSight making DIGIT commercially available will help make touch readily accessible to many more researchers and practitioners, and we hope that it will accelerate further progress advancing AI and robotics."

DIGIT is available now for $300.

Meta AI

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