Your skin is an interface between your brain and the world. Okay, so that sort of sounds like a pickup line a materials scientist would use. But human skin is amazing: It’s exquisitely sensitive, quick on the uptake, and constantly giving you useful information about your surroundings. In a deep way, the ability to physically feel something helps people understand reality.
But electronic gadgets don’t feel any of this. At least, not yet. Scientists have spent the past decade trying to get tech to feel the same way humans do. Their first attempts could really only sense one thing at a time—temperature, say, or pressure. Researchers have tried to jerry-rig these systems together, but the results have been clunky. Now, researchers in Korea have developed their own compact electronic skin that multitasks like a person’s, sensing pressure, temperature, and sound (which is just air pressure, really) simultaneously.