Researchers have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes. The skin’s system of soft sensors and actuators enable the artificial skin to conform to the exact shape of a wearer’s wrist, for example, and provide haptic feedback in the form of pressure and vibration. Strain sensors continuously measure the skin’s deformation so that the haptic feedback can be adjusted in real time to produce a sense of touch that’s as realistic as possible.

A soft artificial skin provides haptic feedback. (Credit: EPFL)

The artificial skin contains soft pneumatic actuators that form a membrane layer which can be inflated by pumping air into it. The actuators can be tuned to varying pressures and frequencies (up to 100 Hz, or 100 impulses per second). The skin vibrates when the membrane layer is inflated and deflated rapidly.

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