E-Skin Lets the Wearer Manipulate Virtual Objects Without Touching Them

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 12:07

Researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum-Dresden-Rossendorf Institute for Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research in Germany have newly developed electronic skin lets the wearer manipulate virtual objects without touching them.

According to a study published today in the journal Science Advances, scientists built an e-skin that’s essentially a thin film with sensors inside that interact with a magnet. It doesn’t need to be in the line of sight (because it uses magnets) and doesn’t use much energy. It’s soft and bendable, and could one day be used in medical devices like prosthetics or in soft robots.

One of the researcher, Gilbert Cañón Bermúdez, explained that by wearing the e-skin on your hand, the sensor works by interacting with a nearby magnet. Depending on the angle of your hand, it can produce various levels of voltage. The researchers programmed software that controls what happens at each angle of the sensor.

The technology isn’t meant to replace current VR, says Cañón Bermúdez, but to complement it by adding more detail. Right now, the authors are working with magnetic fields about the size of a fridge magnet, so the next step is to work on smaller fields for more detailed manipulations.

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