If you thought mobile cases with bunny ears and googly eyes were weird, wait ‘til you get a load of what HCI (human-computer interaction) researcher and interaction designer Marc Teyssier has been working on.

By laying a number of electronics underneath a mixture of various silicones, he and his team created Skin-On: a phone case material that mimics human skin; complete with touch capabilities:

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: this is NOT real human skin used to make a case. Rather, it is a mixture of DragonSkin silicone poured into a mold to create the outer epidermis topped Datastretch conductive threads to form the electrodes on the skin’s surface.

Underneath the epidermis, the hypodermis is created by pouring Ecoflex Gel silicone in a similar mold. This gives the Skin-On case a fatty quality which lets you pinch and prod it (grandmothers will definitely love this feature).

Once the skin layers have set in, the electrodes are soldered onto a hardware sensing platform which allows it to read different hand gestures such as pinching, stroking, and various other forms of touch. To make the Skin-On look more realistic and gruesome, the team folded some excess silicone on itself, glued it on, and added some paint to really give it a skin-like appearance.

Skin-On
Skin-On
Skin-On

Teyssier created Skin-On with his colleagues to introduce new methods of interacting with various electronic devices. Seeing the human skin as the most natural method for interaction, they decided to encase a mobile phone in a layer of their homegrown “human skin”.

Skin-On
Skin-On
Skin-On

It doesn’t stop at mobile phones, either. The team has also implemented Skin-On on a laptop touchpad, a smartwatch wristband, and even a toy robot. The goal here is to see just how many electronic devices Skin-On can be applied to and made easier to use.

You can find more about Skin-On over on Marc Teyssier’s webpage, where he has a whole slew of photos and videos on the project, as well as a link to the Open Source and Open Hardware multitouch controller he uses to program the skin!

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.