A creepy “artificial skin” developed by scientists in the UK gives phones and laptops human-like reactions, according to its inventors.
The Skin-On interface, which can be attached to a range of electronic devices, can “feel” when it is being tickled, pinched and caressed.
And it could be a big breakthrough should scientists deploy the same technology on robots.
Dr Anne Roudat, an associate professor at the University of Bristol, said: “It may look look unconventional because we are used to our senseless and rigid casings.
“But we feel there are strong advantages to using more malleable technologies.
“The familiarity of the skin provides a more natural interface for users.”
Dr Roudat’s colleagues teamed with researchers at the Sorbonne University, in Paris, and the Telecomm ParisTech company.
The skin, branded “creepy” by science magazine New Scientist, was created using two layers of silicone – dubbed “dermis” and “hypodermis” layers – with ultra-thin wires in between acting as sensors.
The team believes their work could allow users to have richer “emotional experiences” while using their mobile phones.
They say the next step is to make the skin even more realistic, adding hair and temperature features.
The news comes after experts suggested sex robots which can turn down their owners by withholding consent should be designed.
University researchers in Australia and the Netherlands have said in a report that sex dolls with inbuilt “consent modules” would be able to teach owners about sex education.