Touch-sensitive skin sensors to operate mobile devices

Scientists developed flexible sensors that could allow people to answer calls by touching their skin.

Researchers at Saarland University in Germany used the human body as a touch sensitive surface to control mobile devices. They created silicone rubber stickers with pressure-sensitive sensors that fit to the skin and come in different shapes and sizes.

“The stickers allow us to enlarge the input space accessible to the user as they can be attached practically anywhere on the body,” Martin Weigel, one of the computer scientists, said and can also work to control music.

The iSkin technology also aims to turn smartwatches into mini portable devices with a touch-sensitive keyboard that can be pulled out of the watch. The stickers will act as an input space that receives and executes commands in real-time.

However, the sensor stickers are currently connected via cable to a computer system, but in-built microchips may in future allow the skin-worn sensor patches to communicate wirelessly with other mobile devices.

The silicone used to manufacture the sensor patches is flexible and stretchable, and “also skin-friendly, as they are attached to the skin with a biocompatible, medical-grade adhesive,” Jürgen Steimle, leader of the project, said.

“Users can therefore decide where they want to position the sensor patch and how long they want to wear it,” he added, making it easy role it up and put it in your pocket.

Users can also design their iSkin patches on a computer beforehand. ‘A simple graphics program is all you need,’ Weigel said. One sticker, for instance, has musical notes on it.

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