Stretchy electronics makes wearables more wearable
Wearables are soon to get even more wearable thanks to a clever printing process that slings conductive material on to clothing.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created a single-step process which is able to print conductive material on to cloth. This new process will allow manufacturers to build stretchable wearables that can test vital signs like heart rate and muscle contraction.
This means that sportswear could soon come with biometric sensors already stitched in to their very fabric.
Professor Takao Someya’s research group at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering developed the elastic conducting ink which is easily printed on to textiles and patterned in a single printing step.
The ink is made up of silver flakes, organic solvent, fluorine rubber and fluorine surfactant. The ink possesses high conductivity even when it was stretched to more than three times its original length, which is a new benchmark for stretchable conductors.
While components such as chips and transistors are still hard to pull and bend, by allowing the connectors to bend and stretch in certain places you can create a tighter fit for measurement technologies and even bring connectors up close to your skin.
The technology isn’t quite ready to be unleashed in to the public but it should be an interesting addition to the wearables world when it’s commercialised.