Flexible Electronics and Devices as Human-Machine Interfaces for Medical Robotics

Adv Mater. 2022 Apr;34(16):e2107902. doi: 10.1002/adma.202107902. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Medical robots are invaluable players in non-pharmaceutical treatment of disabilities. Particularly, using prosthetic and rehabilitation devices with human-machine interfaces can greatly improve the quality of life for impaired patients. In recent years, flexible electronic interfaces and soft robotics have attracted tremendous attention in this field due to their high biocompatibility, functionality, conformability, and low-cost. Flexible human-machine interfaces on soft robotics will make a promising alternative to conventional rigid devices, which can potentially revolutionize the paradigm and future direction of medical robotics in terms of rehabilitation feedback and user experience. In this review, the fundamental components of the materials, structures, and mechanisms in flexible human-machine interfaces are summarized by recent and renowned applications in five primary areas: physical and chemical sensing, physiological recording, information processing and communication, soft robotic actuation, and feedback stimulation. This review further concludes by discussing the outlook and current challenges of these technologies as a human-machine interface in medical robotics.

Keywords: flexible electronics; human-machine interactions; machine learning; medical robotics; prosthetics; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electronics
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Robotics*