Business Technology

Friday 15 November 2019

Just give me a tickle on the phone when you have a minute...

 

More than skin deep: University researchers have produced this prototype of the artificial skin for phones. Photo: Marc Teyssier/Telecomm ParisTech/PA Wire
More than skin deep: University researchers have produced this prototype of the artificial skin for phones. Photo: Marc Teyssier/Telecomm ParisTech/PA Wire

Nilima Marshall

Scientists have developed an "artificial skin" they say can wrap around devices such as smartphones and make them ticklish.

The prototype, which has been designed to look like and mimic human skin, responds to different forms of human contact such as tickling, caressing and pinching.

Called Skin-On interface, it can be attached to mobile phones, wearable devices and laptop touchpads.

The technology was developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and Sorbonne University in Paris.

The team says their work opens the door for a possible future with "anthropomorphic devices" - where gizmos have human characteristics.

Dr Anne Roudaut, associate professor at the University of Bristol, said: "It [the artificial skin] may look unconventional probably because we are used to our senseless and rigid casings, but we feel there are strong advantages of using more malleable technologies.

"And the familiarity of the skin provides a more natural interface for end-users."

The artificial skin was created using two layers of silicone - dubbed "dermis" and "hypodermis" layers - with an electrode layer in the middle made up of ultra-thin wires that act as sensors. Two different types of silicone were dipped in pigment and moulded to give the creation a skin-like texture.

The researchers said their artificial skin allows devices to "feel the user's grasp" and has the ability "to detect interactions such as tickling, caressing, even twisting and pinching".

The team believe that their work, which is being presented at the 32nd ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium in the US, could allow people to have a richer emotional experience while using mobile phones or smartwatches.

Irish Independent

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