Wearable 'Second Skin' Device Could Facilitate Human to Machine Communication

Near impossible to feel, this ultra-thin wearable device could make communication between humans and machines a smoother one.

A team of scientists has created an extremely thin skin-like nanomembrane that fits like a glove. 

The purpose of this invention is to facilitate smooth communication between humans and machines. It's created to be lightweight and imperceptible when worn. 


What is the purpose of this 'second skin'?

When applied to humans and our skin, it could be used to pick up new or oncoming diseases, as well as to monitor our health. 

Imagine receiving a message from your 'glove' letting you know that your temperature is rising and that you should take it easy in the coming days? Pretty neat. 

Wearable 'Second Skin' Device Could Facilitate Human to Machine Communication
Soft, unnoticeable, multifunctional, electronics-based, wearable human-machine interface devices. Source: Cunjiang Yu/Science Advances

And if a robot is to wear one, it would allow them to pick up cues from human actions, in order to improve their performance of specific tasks. 

Wearable human-machine interfaces, or skins, have been met with challenges up until now. 

 As some are made out of uncomfortable and rigid electronic chips and sensors, they end up restricting movement. 

Wearable 'Second Skin' Device Could Facilitate Human to Machine Communication
Human and robot hand. Source: Science Advances

By contrast, those that are made of softer, more comfortable materials wind up being slower or less responsive. 

Researchers have been banging their heads against walls trying to find a comfortable enough material with a fast, or at least decent, response time and allowing multiple functions.

New nanomembrane

This is where Kyoseung Sim and his team of researchers come in. 

The group of scientists has created a nanomembrane that's made from indium zinc oxide that enables the team to fine-tune the material's texture and surface properties. 

This made devices only 3 to 4 micrometers thick. 

Wearable 'Second Skin' Device Could Facilitate Human to Machine Communication
Compressed and stretched 'skin.' Source: Science Advances

They also turned out resembling snake-skin, stretching and adapting so as to not bother the human, or robot, wearing it. 


With this nanomembrane, humans could direct robots through the signals from their muscles. This would allow the user to feel what the robot is feeling themselves. 

Incredibly, the device maintains its functions even when compressed or stretched. 

Furthermore, the researchers also discovered that by using this nanomembrane material, they could monitor UV exposure - which would help against skin disease - or to sense skin temperature, which would be the factor to detect upcoming medical issues easily.

Wearable 'Second Skin' Device Could Facilitate Human to Machine Communication
Movements. Source: Science Advances

Quite a remarkable piece of technology. More research on the wearable device is being carried out, but it looks promising.

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