What if you could not only see the contents of your computer screen, but feel them by putting on an electronic exoskin? The research being done by scientists at the University of Illinois could enable just that — John Rogers and his colleagues are developing devices known as "electrotactile stimulators" that can turn electrical signals into feelings of touch, as reported by Wired. To do this, Rogers and his team stamped a flexible circuit onto a pliable, finger-shaped plastic tube. After they flip the tube inside out — putting the circuit on the inside of the tube where it contacts the skin — the stimulator is ready to fool your finger into feeling synthetic sensations from a computer or external sensor.
Rogers and his team aren't the first to develop electronic tactility devices — several have been made to assist the visually impaired — but they are among the first to integrate such a device into a non-obtrusive, wearable exoskin. By running electric current at various frequencies through the stimulator, the scientists were able to manipulate the sensations felt by the test subjects. If Rogers and his team's technology were to be improved, a glove could theoretically be made, enabling some interesting potential applications: remote surgery, better hazard avoidance for the blind, and video games — a perfect match for the Oculus Rift.