This Stretchable ‘Octopus-like’ Skin Senses Touch

Mano ten Napel | @Mano10Napel

A research team of Cornell University graduate students, under the supervision of Rob Shepherd, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, have developed a stretchable luminescent skin for optical signaling and tactile sensing.


The ‘Octopus-like’ skin is able to stretch out more than six times its original size and at the same time is able to emit light. Although it might challenge your imagination to how this discovery could lead to useful solutions, the research team does stand by its development and they believe that it can make a difference in the field of electronic communication, transportation, healthcare and wearable technology.

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Although Shepherd has admitted to “not being very fashion-forward,” here at when it comes to artificial soft skin that can stretch, change color and light up, the potential fashion tech benefits are the first things we think off. Now when we are adding functionality to the above, that’s when things start to get even more interesting.

Since wearable technology also involves putting hardware solutions into a soft surface, we are sure that this is a discovery that will offer devices the kind of opportunities to conform to the design of the wearer’s shape or even better, add additional comfort.

The four graduate students, Bryan Peele, Chris Larson, Shuo Li and Sanlin Robinson, are credited by Shepherd,for coming up with the idea for the material. On the stretchable luminescent skin for optical signaling and tactile sensing Larson stated, “You could have a rubber band that goes around your arm that also displays information. You could be in a meeting and have a rubber band-like device on your arm and could be checking your email. That’s obviously in the future, but that’s the direction we’re looking in.”

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