Hu Y., and Hoffman, G. (2022).
What Can a Robot’s Skin Be? Designing Texture-Changing Skin for Human-Robot Social Interaction

ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction
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Biological skin has numerous functions like protection, sensing, expression, and regulation. On the contrary, a robot’s skin is usually regarded as a passive and static separation between the body and environment. In this paper, we explore the design opportunities of a robot’s skin as a socially expressive medium. Inspired by living organisms, we discuss the roles of interactive robotic skin from four perspectives: expression, perception, regulation, and mechanical action. We focus on the expressive function of skin to sketch design concepts and present a flexible technical method for embodiment. The proposed method integrates pneumatically actuated dynamic textures on soft skin, with forms and kinematic patterns generating a variety of visual and haptic expressions. We demonstrate the proposed design space with six texture-changing skin prototypes and discuss their expressive capacities.