Scientists have developed artificial skin to help restore touch

Along with hearing and sight, touch is one of the key ways to obtain information and interact with the world around you. And for people who, for some reason, have lost the ability to perceive tactilely, the researchers proposed artificial skin technology with the possibility of touch-sensitive feedback, reports the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Scientists at the EPFL Reconfigurable Robotics Laboratory (RRL), led by Jamie Pike, and the School of Engineering's Soft Bioelectronic Interface (LSBI) laboratory, led by Stephanie Lacour, have proposed a system that combines soft silicone elements with soft sensors and actuators.

Silicone allows you to create the most appropriate form of body parts coating, and multi-layer coating provides signal reception and feedback. 

Artificial Skin That Senses Touch
Artificial Skin That Senses Touch 

The sensor layer is located on top of the membrane layer made of pneumatic elements and contains soft electrodes made of a mixture of liquid and solid gallium. 

These electrodes continuously measure the deformation of the skin and send the data to a microcontroller that uses this feedback to fine-tune the sensation transmitted to the person in response to their movements and changes of external factors.

Sensors continuously measure the deformation of artificial skin, so that sensory feedback can be adjusted in real time to create the most realistic sense of touch. 

Artificial skin can stretch up to four times its original size and withstand up to a million stretch-compression cycles without change.

The results of the research are published in Soft Robotics. In the near future, comprehensive development testing will begin in both real and virtual environments.


  1. Harshal A. Sonar, Aaron P. Gerratt, Stéphanie P. Lacour, and Jamie Paik.Soft Robotics. 23, 2019.

Self-Sensing Soft Pneumatic Actuator Skin

For the first time a closed loop tactile feedback control is achieved, it is the first time on a completely soft platform. A prototype of the new Self Sufficient Pneumatic Actuator (SPA) with soft load cells, called SPA skin, has been developed to withstand high multi-axis stresses and is capable of high-frequency sensing and control. 

To control tactile feedback in a closed loop, the platform requires a coherently integrated system. Comprised of a stretchable low-profile SPA (<500 µm) and an ultra-compatible thin-metal film strain gauge, this system creates a completely new double-sided platform for tactile sensing using adjustable vibration feedback force. 

By using this prototype, for example, real-time control of drive geometry up to 100 Hz with output forces up to 1 N supported by variable mechanical loads. 

The SPA leather platform was also described as a platform for static and dynamic behavior in the amplitude and frequency range, with an analytical model of the system to predict the actuator's pumping status using only the built-in sensor resistance. 

As a multi-layered system, the SPA skin can be easily implemented as a fast, wear-resistant bi-directional interface for contact and vibration-tax feedback.