‘Artificial skin’ breakthrough could create lifelike VR haptics
Scientists from EFPL’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL) and the Laboratory for Soft Bioelectric Interfaces (LSBI) at the School of Engineering have partnered to develop a flexible, ‘artificial skin’, opening up opportunities to develop lifelike VR haptics that fit better than a glove.
The ‘skin’, made of silicone and electrodes, uses soft sensors and actuators to conform to the shape of a user’s wrist, providing feedback via pressure and vibration.
The haptic feedback can be adjusted to produce a sense of touch that the team claims is as realistic as possible, with the integration of sensors and actuators providing a closed-loop control that can actuate and modulate the vibration stimulation felt by users, with the actuators able to be tuned to varying pressures of up to 100Hz or 100 pulses per second.
The electrodes continuously measure skin deformation, sending data to a microcontroller that uses the feedback to precisely tune the sensation transmitted to the user in response to movement and changes in external factors.
The team is currently testing the ‘artificial skin’ on the fingers, making improvements to the technology with plans to develop a fully wearable prototype in the near future.