SkinMorph is an on-skin interface which can selectively transition between soft and rigid states to serve as a texture-tunable wearable skin output. This texture change is made possible through the material design of smart hydrophillic gels. These gels are soft in resting state, yet when activate by heat (>36°C), they generate a micro-level structural change which results in observable stiffening. These gels are encapsulated in thin silicone patterned with resistive wires through a sew-and-transfer fabrication approach. We demonstrate application examples using the texture-tunable skin overlay as wearable, interactive protection for scenarios including: a carpal tunnel splint for rehabilitation, a protective layer for joints when engaging in high impact activities, and foot pads when wearing uncomfortable shoes. Our evaluation shows that the gel is 10 times stiffer when activated, and that users find the device skin-conformable.

Kao, H.-L. C., Bamforth, M., Kim, D., Schmandt, C., “SkinMorph: Texture-Tunable On-Skin Interface Through Thin, Programmable Gel”, ACM ISWC 2018 Best Paper Honorable Mention Award [DOI] [PDF]