Researchers at the University of Twente (Netherlands) have been working on cricket hairs or, rather, biomimicry projects based on cricket hairs for a few years now. There’s this Aug. 31, 2010 posting on ConsumerCourt.com which mentions the ‘cricket hair’ work in relationship to applications in cochlear implants (Note: A link has been removed),
Dutch scientists have recreated the tiny hairs found on a cricket that allow the insect to sense predators – a move that could lead to new cochlear implants for the hearing impaired.
A team of physicists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, led by Gijs Krijnen and Remco Wiegerink, built a mechanical array with up to a few hundred artificial hairs, says a report in the university journal’s website.
The latest work by the University of Twente team is focused on cameras according to a Mar. 11, 2013 news item on ScienceDaily,
Crickets use sensitive hairs on their cerci (projections on the abdomen) to detect predators. For these insects, air currents carry information about the location of nearby predators and the direction in which they are moving. These University of Twente researchers wondered whether they could use the same principle to create a new kind of “camera,” capable of imaging entire flow patterns rather than measuring flows at a single point. They mimic the cricket hairs using microtechnology.
The hairs themselves are made of a type of epoxy, which is attached to a flexible suspended plate. That acts as a capacitor, whose capacitance varies with movement. Measuring that variation gives you information about the movement. Using an entire field or array of such fine hairs, it is possible to identify patterns in the flow, in much the same way as complete images are formed from the individual pixels detected by chips in cameras.
For those interested, here’s a citation and a link to the article,
A M K Dagamseh, R J Wiegerink, T S J Lammerink and G J M Krijnen (2012). Towards a high-resolution flow camera using artificial hair sensor arrays for flow pattern observations. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 7 (4) 046009 doi:10.1088/1748-3182/7/4/046009
This is an Institute of Physics science journal publication and the article, published in Sept. 2012, is open access.