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New soft imitation leather with tactile feedback that can also be used in virtual reality

A new artificial skin, defined in the press release as a “sophisticated self-recognition mechanism,” was produced by a group of EPFL researchers.

This new artificial skin, thanks to its tactile feedback that transforms into pressure and vibration, would “immediately” adapt to movements as soon as it is attached to the fingers or hands. These sensors continuously measure even small deformations of the skin so that the sense of artificial “touch” is as realistic as possible.

In addition to improving rehabilitation in the medical field, this artificial skin could be used in virtual reality and in human-computer interfaces in general. In the longer term, such artificial skin could also be used for robots.

It is equipped with sensors and actuators and is soft and flexible. This makes it easy to “wear” as it adapts to the shape of the hands and wrist. This is the first artificial skin equipped with both sensors and actuators and, according to Harshal Sonar, the main author of the study presenting this skin and published on Soft Robotics, completely soft.

The skin created by the researchers is a prototype, but now they are working on a new model that can be fully worn and also tested for neuroscientific studies where this skin can be used to stimulate the body to study brain activity through magnetic resonance.


Background info and sources:

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/soro.2019.0013

Image source:

https://zdnet2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2019/10/03/8a59a0c8-7e63-4091-a5fe-4962ca7b188c/resize/1200×675/30a232f47b2ab4cf818d5a43c645785c/artificial-skin.jpg

Martin Hill

An accomplished journalist and freelancer, Martin has held a long career in media and has worked for numerous different agencies. He was an editor for the Arizona Business Gazette for over 10 years before joining the Tucson Weekly (tucsonweekly.com) and founding Science of Change, a new publication with the aim of reporting on science news over the internet. Beyond having extensive writing and research experience, Martin is also a science enthusiast with a passion for science and technology. In his younger life, he had studied mechanical engineering before moving on to journalism.
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