“Gross” you might be thinking. And you’d be right.
Made with a “subtle surface texture”, the creepy case reacts to human contact in order to increase “natural interaction and input”, supposedly lost with the cold interface of technology.
In a video released by the researchers, the phones shows a number of functions based in the user’s touch, such as pinching, squeezing, and stretching to zoom in and out.
The skin even allows emojis to be sent based on it’s treatment, with a tickle releasing laughing emojis, and a pinch sending angry faces to the recipient.
On the Project website, Ph.D student Marc Teyssier outlines his reasons behind the invention.
“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.
In this project, I wanted to make available the perfect human interface that is the skin for existing devices.”
Now, you might be thinking this is all a bit Hannibal Lecter, and once again, you’d be right.
But Teyssier sees the potential of the device for a number of different fields, for example adding the skin to robots or prosthetics.
“More generally, our goal is to further explore various types of anthropomorphism towards human-like devices,” the paper reports.
The case itself follows a “bio-driven” approach, taking inspiration from actual human skin for ultimate realism.
From the moulding of the textured top ‘epidermis’ layer, to the sensing electrodes, to the ‘hypodermis’ fat layer, the skin remains faithful to it’s human inspiration.
Two prototypes have been created using the interfaces: “Simple” and “ultra-realistic”. But the researcher have plans to up the skin-like appearance even more, with the next steps being to add hair, temperature features, goose-bumps and even sweat.
“This work explores the intersection between man and machine” Dr. Anne Roudaut, associate professor in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Bristol states.
“We have seen so many works trying to augment human with parts of machines, here we look the other way around and try to make the devices we use every day more like us, i.e. human-like.”
Closing the gap between technological distance, the main aim of the researchers seems to improver user expressiveness despite the “static” and “motionless” limitations of mobile devices.
This is not Teyssier’s first foray into this kind of thing. Oh no.
With last year came the release of the “MobiLimb”, as device which can clip into your smartphone that resembles a robotic finger.
Allowing your phone to drag itself around, and caress your wrist, it’s clear to see why the infamous skin case was Teyssier’s next step.
Hoping to create similarly ‘human-like’ communication, the MobiLimb is able to stroke the user’s hand in response to positive emojis, and can even include a rubber skin to seem even more life-like.
Along with this, the device can shake or tap on a surface when you receive a notification, and can be programmed to draw.
The group seems to be working on plenty of other uses for the skin alongside the phone case. So keep your eyes peeled for the release of a skin mousepad, computer touch pad, and smartwatch band.
The technology is currently been developed by Teyssier and his team in developing realistic touch in VR. Yeah, I’m sure that’s not going to get weird.
My question is why does a phone need to have better skin than I do?
Currently attempting to survive as a part-time writer, full-time incompetent adult, Sarah O'Neill can often be found writing about how much she hates the new seasons of Arrested Development. She does her best writing under pressure and her worst writing under pressure, and hopes one day to write under better conditions. Like by the sea. You can contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow