Will Electronic-Skin Be the New Controller in VR?

Bulky controllers and complex setups have been like a thorn in the side of VR mass adoption since its very inception. Still, VR headsets, games and consoles have been grabbed by gamers in a huge number regardless of whether they use it consistently or if it’s sitting in a corner gathering layers of dust. Virtual reality is already plagued with all the problems every early technology has had to face, and the bulky controllers along with a line of other accessories don’t make it any easier.

The controllers may be fine on their own. But the necessity of them being accompanied by motion sensors and other essential elements makes it off-putting for many users who tend to get frustrated by the limitations that come with it. Every virtual reality enthusiast is bent on getting an immersive experience that removes the distinction between reality and the digital world they occupy. It’s hard to do that while strapped to heavy items to mimic the movement and not being able to feel them in your nerves.

It seems that they may get their wish soon enough. Electronic skin (e-skin) has been on the edges of the horizon for some time now and it’s making a rather impactful entrance in the tech world. As thin as a band-aid, e-skin can let you track subtle hand movements charged with the power of a set of 8 magnetic sensors to input to a computer. Using this technology, it can prove to be a better option for VR, an alternative to bulkier controllers, to interact in the virtual world.

Electronic skin can be the snowball effect for VR, tipping the scales further in favor of the much-anticipated technology. Unlike the current devices, e-skin doesn’t require cameras to track and detect motion. Rather, scientists have been working on this tech that can let the users manipulate virtual objects with natural gestures. They shared a demo that opens up the doors to future tech, demonstrating that this thin film attached to the skin can allow people to type on a virtual keyboard or manipulate light switches with a mere movement of their hands.

This particular technology finds its strength in its ability to use magnets regardless of how dark or light your surroundings are and can be a major contributor in pushing VR towards mass adoption. Despite the positive forecasts and results, e-skin hasn’t been picked up for commercialized production but research continues on the project to make it more detailed and capable of working on smaller fields. The technology is more than likely to gain traction in near future as it’s not meant to replace current virtual reality but to add value and more detail to it.