Augmented reality skin could change the way people feel the world

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Augmented reality touch continues to be a subject of research and development

Disney Research shook the technology world with its augmented reality tactile system called REVEL, but it is not the only one experimenting with how technology could be used to provide people with new sensations. Mimicking the sense of touch has been a popular subject in the world of science for some time. Small circuits that are capable of stimulating the sense of touch are already widely used in some medical fields. Many of these circuits are affixed to rigid materials, however, making their usage limited. Researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have created a new material that has skin-like properties that could serve as a host for these circuits.

Technology breaking away from the sense of sight

Augmented reality is often related to the sense of sight. The technology is widely used in marketing and entertainment as a way to provide consumers with dynamic, visual content. Augmented reality is not limited to one sense, however, as it can be used to augment various aspects of the physical world, as its name suggests. Researchers from the University of Illinois, led by materials scientist John Rogers, have created a skin-like material that may be able to expound on the possibilities of augmented reality technology.

Circuits able to mimic tactile sensations

As part of the study of the new material, researchers molded it to their own fingers and implanted nanometer-sized strips of silicon containing circuitry in the material. The pressure produced from touching an object generates an electric current that activates the circuitry contained within the material. Once active, the circuit can send electrical signals through the finger. These signals can be modified using augmented reality technology so that they mimic textures and other tactile sensations.

Research of the technology to continue

Augmented reality has already managed to change the way people see the world around them, but it soon may be able to change the way people feel that world. Such a feat may be several years away from coming to fruition, but researchers from the University of Illinois are committed to the continued development of their so called “electronic skin.”

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