Inspired by crickets, researchers of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente in the Netherlands have build a biomimetic sensor that can measure changes in airflow and pressure. It resembles the same sensory system of 'filiform hairs' that crickets use to perceive their predators.
The tiny artificial hairs, made of polymer SU8, are broader at the base and thinner near the top. The base of each hair rests on a flexible surface that, when moved, changes its electrical capacity, thus providing a means to meassure movement. By alternating the voltage, the hairs can be made more or less stiff, changing the sensitivity to movement. If the hairs are limper, they can measure smaller movements in airflow and pressure, up to ten times as much compared to a stiff hair.
Via University of Twente.