In cooperation with the University of Linz in Austria, hzdr has developed an electronic sensor that can simultaneously process non-contact and direct contact stimuli. The sensor can be easily used for human skin, making people interact with virtual or augmented reality environment more intuitively and naturally.
Skin is the largest organ of human body, which has rich functions. It can not only distinguish stimuli in a few seconds, but also classify signal strength in a wide range. Dr. Dennis Makarov of the hzdr Institute of ion beam physics and materials and Professor Martin katenbrenner of the soft Electronics Laboratory of Linz University have successfully made “electronic skin” with similar characteristics.
According to reports, the new sensor can greatly simplify the interaction between human and computer. “Virtual reality applications are becoming more and more complex,” Makarov said. So we need to connect devices that combine different interaction methods. ” Previous systems can only track objects by touching or non-contact technology. Now, for the first time, these two approaches are combined on the sensor, which is called “magnetic micro electro mechanical system” (m-mems).
Ge Jin, a Chinese scientist at hzdr, explained that “our sensor processes electrical signals of non-contact and tactile interaction in different areas”, which can distinguish stimulus sources in real time and hide the influence of other sources.
To make this kind of “electronic skin” sensor, the researchers made an unusual design: they first connected a giant magnetoresistance magnetic sensor on the wafer polymer film, which sealed the hole just in the middle of the second silicon-based polymer layer, and inserted a permanent magnet into the circular groove.
Makarov said that this structure allows the sensor to maintain extremely high flexibility, even in bending conditions, can also work properly. Experiments show that sensors can control physical and virtual objects. Researchers project virtual buttons onto a glass plate with permanent magnets to display real conditions, such as room temperature, brightness or manipulation. Through the interaction with the permanent magnet, the desired virtual function can be selected.
Previously, researchers may say that multiple interactions need to be reduced to one. “It sounds like a small step forward, but in the long run, a better human-computer interface can be built on it,” katenbrenner said For example, in addition to virtual reality, “electronic skin” can also be used in sterile environments. Surgeons can use sensors to operate medical devices without touching them during treatment, which will reduce the risk of contamination.