Robots with Living 'Skin' Now Capable of Smiling and Other Eerie Expressions

Humanoid robots are already quite unsettling, but what if they had skin that made them look even more like the species they’re designed to imitate?

Scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a new, rather unnerving technology using engineered living skin tissue and human-like ligaments. This can now be bonded to the surface of robots, enabling them to exhibit more human-like facial expressions, including smiles and frowns.

This so-called “skin equivalent” adhesion method, still in its prototype phase, is sure to disturb. A GIF shared online alongside the study depicts a small, pink, 2D face with glassy eyes pulled into a smile, reminiscent of the eerie Claymation cartoons from the 1960s and ’70s.