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Multitouch 'skin' makes your body the controller

A simple bit of plastic might change how we interact with our gadgets in the near future.
Rob LeFebvre, @roblef
May 7, 2018
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Saarland University

Having a sophisticated computer interface on your body might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but a group of scientists at Germany's Saarland University have announced exactly that. Called Multi-Touch Skin, the material can be inkjet printed onto a plastic sticker and register a touch from multiple points at once, much like your phone or tablet does.

The sticker is made of two stacked layers of electrodes that are arranged in a grid. The current iteration of the material still needs to be hardwired to a touch-controller microchip, which is then connected to a small Raspberry Pi Zero. So far, the researchers have been able to create four different interfaces with the tech, including a bracelet that can manage an LED lamp, a behind-the-ear sticker that controls a music player, a forearm sticker that can send text messages and a palm sticker that can let you take a phone call. While the technology is in the early stages, it's not hard to imagine a future where you don't need hardware devices like headphones and smart watches to interact with your smart gadgets.

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