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There’s now a phone case made of ‘humanlike’ artificial skin

WATCH: Marc Teyssier, a student at Télécom ParisTech, created Skin-On, a realistic artificial skin interface for devices that respond to touch.

Ever wanted to be able to “tickle” your phone? There’s a phone case for that.

Marc Teyssier, a student at Télécom ParisTech, just launched Skin-On Interfaces – a series of ultra-realistic phone cases that look like human skin.

The cases respond to pinching, petting and even tickling, with the intention of mimicking in-person interactions.

A YouTube video shared by Teyssier demonstrates the case’s functionality, showing how it responds to natural gesture detection.

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“When we are talking to someone face-to-face, we sometimes use touch to convey affect, emotions and more generally enrich the discourse,” he told Cnet. “Now that mediated communication is performed through the devices, we lost the sense of touch communication modality.”

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Though Skin-On is just getting started with simple products, Teyssier said he hopes exploring artificial skin will contribute to robot and prosthetic innovation.

“Artificial skins design for robots is usually focused on reproducing the tactile acuity and sensing capability. Our design allows us to perform expressive gestures such as pinching while having a robust touch detection,” he said.

“The texture impacts the tactile perception and makes the interface more humanlike and realist.”

The artificial skin can also be used on wearable technology, like Apple Watches, and as trackpads for laptops.

Using Skin-On, users can even control their phones from the back of the case by applying pressure to the artificial skin.

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Perhaps one of the most fascinating features, however, is the case’s ability to “detect” emotion — a harsh grip could mean anger, while tapping (or “tickling”) could signify laughter and releases a laughing emoji to whoever the user is speaking to.

When asked why he created the skin-like cases, Teyssier gave New Scientist a simple answer: “I wanted to pinch my phone.”

Teyssier worked with five other researchers to create prototypes of Skin-On at Bristol Interaction Group in Bristol, U.K.

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On his official website, the doctoral student claims “human skin is the best interface for interaction.”

“I propose this new paradigm in which interactive devices have their own artificial skin, thus enabling new forms of input gestures for end-users,” he wrote.

He proposes that modern technology, like cell phones, involves a “cold interface” that doesn’t allow for natural interaction and input. Skin-On, he says, aims to counter that.

Teyssier’s inventions don’t stop with phone cases.

Last October, he created a realistic finger that users can attach to their phones. It enables the device to crawl across the table and stroke the user’s wrist.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca