Background/aims: Touching the skin is of great importance for the Clinician for assessing roughness, softness, firmness, etc. This type of clinical assessment is very subjective and therefore non-reproducible from one Clinician to another one or even from time to time for the same Clinician. In order to objectively monitor skin texture, we developed a new sensor, placed directly on the Clinician's finger, which generate some electric signal when slid over the skin surface. Material and methods: The base of this Haptic Finger sensor is a thin stainless steel plate on which sponge rubber, PVDF foil, acetate film and gauze are layered. The signal generated by the sensor was filtered and digitally stored before processing. In a first in vitro experiment, the sensor was moved over different skin models (sponge rubber covered by silicon rubber) of varying hardness and roughness. These experiments allowed the definition of two parameters characterizing textures. The first parameter is variance of the signal processed using wavelet analysis, representing an index of roughness. The second parameter is dispersion of the power spectrum density in the frequency domain, corresponding to hardness. To validate these parameters, the Haptic Finger was used to scan skin surfaces of 30 people, 14 of whom displayed a skin disorder: xerosis (n=5), atopic dermatitis (n=7), and psoriasis (n=2). Results and conclusion: The results obtained by means of the sensor were compared with subjective, clinical evaluations by a Clinician who scored both roughness and hardness of the skin. Good agreement was observed between clinical assessment of the skin and the two parameters generated using the Haptic Finger. Use of this sensor could prove extremely valuable in cosmetic research where skin surface texture (in terms of tactile properties) is difficult to measure.
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