Inspired by octopuses, researchers have developed a structure that senses, computes and
responds without any centralised processing – creating a device that is not quite a robot and not quite a computer, but has characteristics of both. The new technology holds promise for use in a variety of applications, from soft robotics to prosthetic devices. “We call this ‘soft tactile logic,’ and have developed a series of prototypes demonstrating its ability to make decisions at the material level – where the sensor is receiving input – rather than relying on a centralised, semiconductor-based logic system,” says Michael Dickey, co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University.