The team designed a material based on the muscle underneath octopus skin that controls the animal's dermal papillae. Those are the protrusions in the cephalopod's skin that pop up when it wants to blend into its surroundings. That material is composed of several layers, including a fiber mesh and the rubber skin itself. When you pump air into the structure, some parts of the skin expand, while others get held back by the mesh to form various shapes, like rocks and plants.
The team still has a lot of work to do to perfect their creation, including giving it the ability to form multiple shapes at once. But in the future, the material could be used not to only to create soft robots with the ability to camouflage themselves, but also to immersive VR experiences. Imagine coming across a strange alien from another planet and being able to touch its skin with the help of a prop. Sounds cool, doesn't it?