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This creepy skin-like phone cover could let you control your mobile with a tickle or a pinch

It’s the perfect solution to a problem no one had. Using this cutting edge artificial-skin phone case, called Skin-On, your phone will know if you tickle or pinch it. 

Right. Great.

Issue number one is that it looks absolutely disgusting. Who will want this on the back of their phone? Maybe Freddy Krueger might be interested?

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Marc Teyssier, of Telecom Paris, is the man behind (read: to blame for) this amazing (read: disgusting) innovation. He told New Scientist: “I wanted to pinch my phone.”

That explains it then. Thanks Marc.

Seriously though, all disgust aside, what is this all about?

The experimental case design is meant to add a new layer of subtlety to the touch interactions people have with their phones. Three layers make up the surface, similarly to the three layers that make up biological skin. The idea is that this will introduce other potential ways to control your phone.

No longer are you limited to a swipe and a tap. Now, Teyssier says, you’ll be able to stretch, pinch and tickle the surface and a sensory mid-layer will read all of these ‘inputs’.

Image credit: Marc Teyssier

In the future, Teyssier’s team thinks the skin-like material could be used for other technologies, including robots. This would broaden the scope of robotic functions as they’d be able to process and respond to touch. For example, tapping a robot on the shoulder could attract its attention without the use of a traditional button or motion sensor.

They’ve also made a version of the cover with less skin-like visuals. That definitely sounds preferable.

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The most remarkable uses for this tech will come later in its lifespan, as it’s integrated with more advanced robotics and other products. At the moment it’s just a disgusting phone case that slightly broadens the scope of touch interactions, but gesture controls were arguably doing that anyway.

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