This Electronic Skin Lets You Move Objects Without Touching Them

Posted: Jan 21 2018, 2:22pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 21 2018, 2:25pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
This Electronic Skin Lets You Move Objects Without Touching Them
Credit: D. Makarov

The extremely thin, almost invisible e-skin looks like a simple tattoo

Scientists have developed an electronic skin that allows users to control virtual objects with just hand gestures.

The extremely thin, almost invisible e-skin looks like a tattoo and can be easily placed on the palm of the hand. Once attached, the sensors on the device start to track subtle motions of the hand and enable people to manipulate objects in virtual world in a touchless way.

“Our electronic skin traces the movement of a hand, for example, by changing its position with respect to the external magnetic field of a permanent magnet. This not only means that we can digitize its rotations and translate them to the virtual world but also even influence objects there.” Lead researcher Canon Bermudez of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany said in a statement.

Researchers have demonstrated the e-skin’s capability by controlling a virtual light bulb on a computer screen without toching anything. In another demonstration, the device is placed on a wristband and let the user choose four characters by merely positioning above the sensors.

The technology has implications for software design, physical therapy and security industry.

“Imagine that you want to press a button that is located in a restricted environment that you can’t touch. You would have to use some touchless means of interacting with this button. A combination of magnetic field sensors and permanent magnets can do this job.” Co-researcher Denys Makarov said.

The artificial skins is only 3.5 micrometers thick and could one day replace the bulky, restricted gloves of virtual reality enviroment.

“To manipulate virtual objects, current systems essentially capture a moving body by optical means,” said Makarov. “This requires, on one hand, a load of cameras and accelerometers and, on the other hand, fast image data processing. However, usually the resolution is not sufficient to reconstruct fine movements of the fingers. Moreover, because they are so bulky, the standard gloves and glasses hamper the experience of virtual reality.”

Researchers are hoping to improve the senor’s sensitivity by two to three orders of magnitude to boost its application.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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