A team of physicists has developed a sensor-driven electronic "skin" that can enable people to manipulate everyday objects or control appliances both in the physical world and in Augmented or Virtual Reality with mere gestures.
Just by interacting with magnetic fields, the device enables a touchless manipulation of virtual and physical objects.
"Our electronic skin traces the movement of a hand, for example, by changing its position with respect to the external magnetic field of a permanent magnet," explained lead author Canon Bermudez of German Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR).
"This not only means that we can digitise its rotations and translate them to the virtual world but also even influence objects there," he added.
Using this technique, the researchers managed to control a virtual light bulb on a computer screen in a touchless way.
At first glance, the shiny little gold elements look like a modern tattoo.
But on this extremely thin, almost invisible foil that sticks to the palm of the hand, there are sensors which provide people with a "sixth sense" for magnetic fields.
"To manipulate virtual objects, current systems essentially capture a moving body by optical means," said Denys Makarov of the Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research at HZDR.
The sensors can also withstand bending, folding and stretching without losing their functionality.
This could open up potential applications in the security industry as well.
"Buttons or control panels in rooms which cannot be entered in hazardous situations, for example, could be operated by remote control via the sensors," the researchers noted in a paper appeared in the journal Science Advances.