This Electronic Skin Gives You The Power To Move Virtual Objects Without Touch

The new technology could replace current bulky VR equipment

Photo illustration of electronic skin interacting in virtual reality
Kalawin / Thinkstock

The new technology could replace current bulky VR equipment

Have you ever wished that you could control an object without having to touch it? There’s electronic skin being developed that will enable you to do that and more. But you won’t be able to use it to pick up the remote control from across the room just yet. The technology is destined to be used in virtual worlds.

As Newsweek reports, the skin is thinner than a strand of hair and works by harnessing the power of magnetic sensors which allows the user to operate the software with a wave of the hand or just a light touch of the “e-skin.” If it becomes available for commercial use, it would definitely be a game changer in the VR market. Current virtual reality equipment is very bulky and can rob the user of a truly immersive experience. This electronic skin will help to make VR more seamless.

“This technology will enable a cornucopia of applications from navigation, motion tracking in robotics, regenerative medicine, and sports and gaming to interaction in supplemented reality,” the researchers behind the electronic skin said in a paper published in the January edition of the journal Science Advances.

The team notes that similar technology typically uses optical systems which require the user to see the object that she’s controlling. But the e-skin uses magnetic fields, so that isn’t necessary. That means that you don’t need any special lighting scenarios to operate the skin and it can work in darkness, says study author Denys Makarov from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden in an interview with Newsweek.

In the video demo, you can see someone wearing the skin on their hand and it enables them to control a dimmer switch on a screen without having to touch anything. In another demonstration, you can see someone tapping the skin to use it like the dial controls on a phone.

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest benefits of this technology is that it will one day be able to make it easier for people to interact with virtual worlds. But Science Mag reports that there are some other advantages too when the tech is applied to robotics. The electronic skin could be used to create robots that can “sense” activity without the need for cumbersome hardware.