Smart skin


Receptors under our skin send signals to our brains about the world around us. Engineers are borrowing this idea from the human body to create a ‘smart skin’ for aircraft.

Through this resource students will learn about motes, the tiny sensors at the heart of this innovation, and how science and mathematics are central to this technology.


Time to think: working in groups, students should discuss:

  • What information they think the motes on the surface of aircraft would collect.

  • What they think would need to happen to the information captured by the motes.

  • If they can think of any other uses for a network of motes.

Activity: after learning about how data is transmitted using wireless networks such as motes, students will undertake an activity whereby they will design a mote network for an aircraft wing in order for engineers to collect data about the temperature of the whole surface of an aircraft wing.  Full details of the scenario are given in the resource.