Available technologies

Portable device for skin contact and shear measurements

Reference number: 10424

Portable and designed to minimise discomfort, this device measures the contact and shear characteristics of skin, with applications in a wide range of skin-object interactions.

Proposed use

The proposed device can be used to measure the contact and
shear characteristics of skin. It has applications in a wide range of
skin-object interactions, including the tactility of topical creams.
Therefore, the device can be used as a laboratory measurement
device or as a marketing and sales tool for cosmetics companies.

Problem addressed

Existing methods and devices used to measure skin interactions
only work in a laboratory setting as they are too heavy and not
portable. This means volunteers who will be tested on need to be
allowed into labs that contain chemicals, oils and solvents, where
admission of large panel of subjects is not preferred and unsafe.

In addition, existing devices look industrial which may cause a
feeling of discomfort in the volunteers, which may affect the test
results because discomfort/fear will result in sweat release from
the skin.

Existing devices have limited applications as well. They are
developed to study rigid contacts and can only access ‘easy to
reach’ skin sites such as upper and lower extremities. However,
the proposed device can be used on any skin site on the body and
allows both rigid and soft contacts to be studied.


  • Portable, wireless device to measure skin interactions on any
    skin site on the body.
  • Designed to look non-industrial to minimise discomfort in test subjects.
  • Enables measurements for soft contacts as well as for rigid contacts.

Technology overview

The device comprises a spring-suspended wheel which can freely
rotate upon contact with the skin. The operator applies a
pretension to the spring, which determines the load that the wheel
applies on the skin. The wheel slowly starts a motion and the
resulting forces (applied and shear force) are measured. The shear
forces are measured either using a flexure system, or using the
demand of the motor that drives the wheel.

The enclosure of the device is designed with white plastic material
to reduce weight and provide a non-industrial look. Therefore,
discomfort and inherent negative response of subjects are

Download datasheet

Intellectual property information


Inventor information

Dr Marc Masen

Senior lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering


Valeska Gonzalez

Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Executive, Engineering


+44 (0)20 7594 6893

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