scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a 'skin-on' interface

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a 'skin-on' interface

smartphones could be wrapped in artificial skin to give them a more natural feel, according to researchers. a faux-skin prototype called ‘skin-on’ has been developed by scientists to look and feel like human flesh, responding to different forms of human contact such as tickling, caressing and pinching.

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a skin-on interface

images courtesy of marc teyssien



skin-on‘ interfaces are sensitive skin-like cases that can be attached to mobile phones, wearable devices and laptop touchpads, to increase their capabilities. the technology was developed by researchers at the university of bristol in partnership with telecomm paristech and sorbonne university in paris.

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a skin-on interface



‘when we interact with others, we use skin as interfaces. however the objects of mediated communication – such as the smartphone – still has a cold interface that doesn’t allow natural interaction and input,’ explains marc teyssien, a PhD student at telecomm paristech and lead study author. ‘in this project, I wanted to make available the perfect human interface that is the skin for existing devices.’

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a skin-on interface



the artificial skin is made of three layers, including a top textured layer built by pouring dragonskin silicone with beige pigments on a skin-like texture mold. beneath that is a lattice of stretchable copper wire sandwiched on top of another layer of silicone. pressure on the skin changes the electric charge of the system.

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a skin-on interface



‘to improve the visual appearance of the interface, the excess of silicone can be trimmed before being folded around the side of the hypodermis layer and glued with silicone glue,’ adds teyssien. ‘paint or makeup can be added to shade the artificial skin with flesh like tonal variation, thus increasing anthropomorphism.’

scientists develop faux-flesh to give touch devices a skin-on interface



the artificial skin is programmed to associate different gestures with certain emotions. putting pressure on the skin is associated with anger and tapping is a way of expressing that you need attention. sustained contact and stroking register as comfort.



the next stage in the research will involve making the skin more realistic using embedded hair and temperature features. the work is currently being presented at the ACM symposium on user interface software and technology in new orleans, US.



project info:


research: telecom paristech, hci sorbonne université, CNRS
name: skin-on
authors: marc teyssier, gilles bailly, catherine pelachaud, eric lecolinet, andrew conn and anne roudaut.
site: bristol interaction group, bristol UK


    TK says:
  • Can you imagine the creeps fondling their phone while looking at your children? Eeech… No thanks!


    Jimmy Xi says:
  • Smartphones, my ass. We know where this tech is headed.

    John Date says:
  • In the name of “Biomimetic Design Explorations” please stop human-alike (life-like) smart applications-intact explorations. Design is to enhance the quality of human life, it’s not to pseudo-imitate and expose human body’s anatomical features.

    Santosh Kumar Jha says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,534 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample