Medical technology (MedTech) entrepreneur Benjamin Tee is at the forefront of the commercialisation of electronic skin, or e-skin — a soft material applied to prosthetic body parts. Just like human skin, electronic skin is touch- and pressure-sensitive, and has self-healing properties. Not only does the technology sound straight out of a science fiction movie, the A*Star National Science scholar who completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, actually turns to stories such as Star Wars and X-Men for inspiration. Both, he says, feature creations that were unimaginable at the time of release, but are now scientifically feasible. “E-skin uses very new materials and processes. So many of the challenges I face come from inventing processes that enable e-skin to be manufactured on a large scale, so that it makes economic sense to use them in the first place.
Innovation to me means an invention put to use…the way I look at solving a problem is by first considering whether the e-skin technology can be mass-produced using existing technologies. Of course, as manufacturing technologies improve, some of the inventions then become commercially feasible.”