Artificial Skin Creates The First Ticklish Devices

Summary: A new interface developed by researchers in Bristol and Paris is pushing tactile technology to the next level by providing a skin-like artificial membrane to enhance interactive devices such as phones, portable devices or computers.

The Skin-On interface, developed by researchers at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and the Sorbonne University, imitates human skin in appearance but also in detection resolution.

The researchers adopted a bio-driven approach to develop a multilayer silicone membrane mimicking the layers present in human skin. It is composed of a textured surface layer, a conductive wire electrode layer and a hypoderm layer. Not only is the interface more natural than a rigid box, but it also detects a multitude of gestures made by end users. As a result, the artificial skin allows the devices to "feel" the user's reach - its pressure and location, and can detect interactions such as tickling, stroking, even twisting and pinching.

"This is the first time we have the opportunity to add skin to our interactive devices, and maybe the idea is a little surprising, but the skin is an interface we're very familiar with, so why do not use it and its wealth with the devices we use each time? " day? "Anne Roudaut, Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Bristol, who oversaw the research.

"Artificial skin has been the subject of many studies in the field of robotics, but emphasizes safety, detection, and aesthetic goals, and is the first study we are aware of that is considering 'exploit realistic artificial skin as a new input method for back-up devices,' said Marc Teyssier, lead author.

As part of this study, researchers created a phone case, a computer touchpad and a smartwatch to show how tactile gestures on the Skin-On interface can convey expressive messages that enable computerized communication with humans. or virtual characters.

"One of the main uses of smartphones is mediated communication using text, voice, video, or a combination of both. We implemented a messaging application that allows users to express rich tactile emotions on artificial skin. The intensity of touch controls the size of the touch screen. The emojis: a strong grip transmits anger while tickling the skin displays a laughing emoji and tapping creates a surprised emoji, "said Marc Teyssier.

"This work explores the intersection between man and machine.We have seen a lot of work trying to increase the man with machine parts, we look here in the other direction and try to make the devices that we use every day more like us, to know like, "said Dr. Roudaut.

These touch devices may quickly become the norm. The document provides all the steps necessary to replicate this research and the authors invite developers interested in the Skin-On interfaces to make contact.

Researchers say the next step will be to make the skin even more realistic. They have already begun to take an interest in the integration of hair color and temperature, which could be enough to give the devices - and their surroundings - goose bumps.

Paper: Marc Teyssier, Gilles Bailly, Catherine Pelachaud, Eric Lecolinet, Andrew Conn, Anne Roudaut. Skin-On Interfaces: A Bio-Driven Approach for Artificial Skin Design to Cover Interactive Devices. UIST 2019