Ever wanted an artificial skin phone case? Well, here you go.
You think you’ve heard everything sometimes, but then you hear something that blows your mind all over again. Today is one of those days. Forget protective covers – there are now smartphone cases that are meant to simulate the feel of real skin. As if that weren’t weird enough, it also responds to being touched and pinched.
The project, which was in collaboration with researchers from HCI Sorbonne Université and CNRS, is called the “Skin-On Interface.” As you’d expect, it’s essentially a phone case made from artificial skin. That in itself would be a creepy enough prospect, but this is combined with interactivity that elevates it to the next level of nope.
According to Marc Teyssier of Telecom Paris, the skin responds to different gestures that mimic human emotional communication. Sudden hard pressure on the skin is associated with anger and tapping is a means of seeking attention, while sustained contact and stroking are associated with providing comfort. Yes, you can comfort your phone.
So the obvious question here is, why? Well, Marc says “I wanted to pinch my phone,” which isn’t only somewhat bizarre, but also really answers nothing. Regardless of reasoning, it’s rather impressive that they’ve made an artificial skin that responds to touch. The skin is able to detect a variety of gestures, including sliding, stretching and rotation.
“This is the first time we have the opportunity to add skin to our interactive devices. The idea is perhaps a bit surprising, but skin is an interface we are highly familiar with so why not use it and its richness with the devices we use every day?” said University of Bristol Professor Anne Roudaut who supervised the research.
“Artificial skin has been widely studied in the field of robotics but with a focus on safety, sensing or cosmetic aims. This is the first research we are aware of that looks at exploiting realistic artificial skin as a new input method for augmenting devices,” Teyssier said.
No words on when (if ever) these monstrosities will be available for purchase. The researchers and designers behind Skin-On will present their work at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in New Orleans starting Sunday.
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