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Created artificial skin for virtual hugs

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr8,2024

Artificial skin created for virtual hugs

Ultra-thin film, able to transmit the feeling of touch, is able to turn textiles into a virtual second skin. The Saar University press service reports on the development, which will be presented at the Hannover Messe exhibition.

German researchers have developed ultra-thin films that can transmit the feeling of touch at a distance. In the future, this technology will allow children who are quarantined in hospitals to feel the physical closeness of their parents and experience the feeling of being held, stroked or hugged.

Scientists have developed films only 50 microns thick that can be worn like a second skin. Ultra-thin films incorporated into the textiles allow the child to feel being touched when the mother or father strokes the second smart textile from a distance.

The films, known as dielectric elastomers, act both as sensors that recognize tactile signals from mom or dad and as actuators that transmit those movements to the baby, – says Stefan Zeleke, professor at Saarland University

Working as a sensor, the film is able to recognize with very high precision how a touch pushes or stretches the film by touching it. This physical deformation caused by the parent's hand is then accurately reproduced in the second tissue that comes into contact with the baby's skin.

A highly flexible conductive layer is printed on each side of the ultra-thin film, the scientists explain. Under voltage, the electrodes are attracted, compressing the polymer and causing it to expand. Even the slightest change in the film changes its electrical capacity. When a finger passes over the film, the film deforms. The sequence of capacitance changes represents the path traveled by the finger upon impact.

Knowing how the capacitance and deformation of the film correlate, the researchers recreate the touch. Intelligent algorithms predict and program the sequence of movements, controlling the deformation of the elastomer film.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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