In a recent study published in Nature, scientists at Stanford University created a stretchable, chameleon-like electronic skin that possesses color-changing properties that are controlled by tactile sensing, according to Phys.org. The electronic skin is made up of stretchable microsaturated polymer, which modifies its voltage when pressure is applied, and a stretchable "electrochromic" polymer that is either red or blue depending on the voltage. The chemical composition of the "electrochromic" material changes along with pressure changes, causing the colors alteration.
"We show an all-solution processed chameleon-inspired stretchable electronic skin (e-skin), in which the e-skin color can easily be controlled through varying the applied pressure along with the applied pressure duration," said Ho-Hsiu Chou, lead author of the study. "As such, the e-skin's color change can also in turn be utilized to distinguish the pressure applied."
The applications for the skin are vast — it could be integrated into wearable devices, smart robots and artificial prosthetics.
"The e-skin can potentially be integrated into the things that we wear and carry, i.e., clothes, smart phones, smart watches and any other kind of wearable devices," he said. "By integrating with this color-changeable e-skin, you can imagine that all the colors can be integrated into one device, and the user can change it interactively for decoration or to express emotion."
This technology is not the first of its kind — a team of scientists from the University of California at Berkley developed similar technology back in March, according to Nanowerk. The California researchers utilized technology that takes advantage of the light reflective properties of silicon, according to Geek.