The spongey-looking jacket, created using two layers of silicone, has the ability “to detect tickling, caressing, even twisting and pinching”, they added.
Emojis can be created, based on how a handset is being held.
“A strong grip conveys anger while tickling the skin displays a laughing emoji and tapping creates a surprised emoji,” said lead study author Marc Teyssier.
The idea is to echo natural human communication, of which touch is often an important part.
Researchers from the University of Bristol, in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and Sorbonne University in Paris, said it provides a glimpse of a future involving “anthropomorphic devices” which have human characteristics.
Between the two sheets of silicone is a layer of ultra-thin wires which act as sensors.
To give the silicone a skin-like texture, two different types of it were moulded after being dipped in pigment.
Called Skin-On interface, it also can be attached to mobile phones, wearable tech and laptop touchpads.
Dr Anne Roudaut, associate professor at the University of Bristol, said the “familiarity of the skin provides a more natural interface for users”.
Mr Teyssier, a PhD student at Telecomm ParisTech, said the wrapper has a “subtle surface texture – the sensing is performed in the dermis and the hypodermis layer (fat layer) and the elasticity is what allows us to perform expressive gestures such as pinching”.
He added: “When we are talking to someone face-to-face, we sometimes use touch to convey emotions and more generally enrich the discourse.
“Now that mediated communication is performed through the devices, we lost this communication modality.
“With this project, we tried to combine the best of the two.
“The prototypes we developed propose a possible future with anthropomorphic devices.”
Dr Roudaut said: “We have seen many works trying to augment human with parts of machines, here we look at the other way around and try to make the devices we use every day more like us, ie, human-like.”