InteractiveSkin project receives prestigious grant from the EU

Smartwatches and fitness trackers show that more and more people are using wearable information technology. Therefore, Professor Jürgen Steimle and other computer scientists at Saarland University are working to develop interactive computing devices that can be worn like a second skin. In addition, users can design and tailor them as they wish. In the future the interactive skin should not only be able to control mobile end-user devices, but also support patients in the healing process. The European Research Council has now awarded Jürgen Steimle the renowned ERC Starting Grant and will sponsor his research over the next five years with about 1.5 million Euro.

"While smartwatches and the like can be operated on the body by touching them, the devices are thick and inflexible, and they still originate from mass production. They are therefore not optimally fitted to the wearer's body," explains Jürgen Steimle, Professor of Computer Science at Saarland University. His group thus wants to develop a new generation of mobile end user devices, termed "Interactive Skin."

Through their research project "iSkin," they have already shown what these can look like. Here they used flexible silicone and conductive electronic sensors to develop touch-sensitive stickers, which resemble tattoos, for the skin. These serve as input surfaces which can be used to control mobile computers. If the user presses on the sticker, he or she can, for example, answer a phone call or change the volume of a music player. "At first, with iSkin, we researched only input methods; now we are studying, with the help of thinner materials, how one can display or feel information on the skin. The ERC Starting Grant will allow us to investigate the possibilities of interaction on the skin systematically and comprehensively," says Professor Steimle. He is also confident that the interactive skin will thereby increasingly be used in everyday life. "With graphical user interfaces it was similar. The research behind them has made it possible for everyone to use them nowadays," explains Professor Steimle.

According to information from the ERC, out of this year's total of 2935 researchers who applied for the ERC Starting Grant, only 325 were successful. Professor Steimle applied within the area "Physical Sciences and Engineering," in which 1288 applications were received; only 146 of these were awarded with an ERC Starting Grant.

Further information:

Jürgen Steimle

ERC Starting Grants


Questions can be directed to:

Professor Dr. Jürgen Steimle
Chair for Human-Computer Interaction
Cluster of Excellence "Multimodal Computing and Interaction"
Saarland University
Tel.: +49 681 302-70180

Gordon Bolduan
Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Tel.: +49 681 302-70741

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