Facebook device to let users 'feel messages through skin'

Facebook researchers are developing a device to allow users to feel messages through their skin.

The sleeve-like prototype translates words into vibrations delivered by pads onto the arm.

A paper published by Facebook points out "it can be devastating to miss important call, text, or notification from a loved one".

Researchers say their invention is needed to receive messages in situations when users cannot check their smartphones, such as during a meeting, when in the cinema, or while attending church.

The device, called a transcutaneous language communication (TLC) system, could also be used when running, driving or carrying shopping bags in both hands.

Developers say it "transmits a tactile representation of spoken or written language to the arm" so users "receive messages without looking at their smart devices, and feel them through their skin".

"We use the forearm as the medium because it has a better tactile sensitivity than most body parts, less likely to disrupt daily activity compared to the hand, and more socially acceptable than the forehead or feet," researchers said.

"The users can receive meaningful messages on their arms by feeling the vibrotactile stimuli, instead of inconveniently taking out and looking at their smart devices."

The team behind the project has also developed an application to help users get to grips with the system, allowing them to learn words within minutes.

A separate study published by Facebook found volunteers were able to remember 20 simple words a day after receiving 26 minutes of training.