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Brief Published: 1 Jul 2014

Sensing Goosebumps


A research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a sensor capable of recording and analysing goosebumps on the skin's surface.

The device uses an adhesive pad even smaller than a postage stamp to measure the decrease in the sensor's capacitance (its ability to hold an electric charge). This fall occurs when the goosebumps appear, as a result of the skin becoming more uneven.

Testing was carried out using the physical stimulus of touching ice cubes. However, it is thought that this technology could be applied to detect changes in a person's emotional state as well.

The research, outlined in the Applied Physics Letters journal, describes how other psychological research has used goosebumps to identify changes in emotional states, triggered by music and films.

Ultimately, the technology could enable advertisers and entertainment companies to monitor consumer engagement more accurately – as Irish company Sensum does with its app, linked to a galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor. The app measures perspiration to enhance entertainment.

For more on the latest tactile feedback technologies and how they might revolutionise retail, healthcare and entertainment, see Sensory Science.