As we venture forward in the age of the Internet of Things, data is seemingly driving more and more decisions. This trend could come to include the shoes we buy, the blankets we sleep with, and the clothes we wear to the doctor’s office or gym.
Recently, a team of researchers from the Florida A&M University - Florida State University College of Engineering unveiled their findings related to advanced motion sensors. These sensors could bring wearable data collection technology into a new age by making it easier to produce and cheaper to acquire.
More cost-effective production methods were realized with the use of seven-micron thin sheets of pure, durable carbon nanotubes called buck paper. Silver ink electrodes were then printed on these sheets with a commercially available ink-jet printer. The researchers describe the result as a near perfect combination of the flexibility and sensitivity needed for a wearable. The lack of seams allows for movement without straining the material or restricting movement.
Potential applications could include bedsheets for monitoring sleep activity, shoes to track walking and running, or athletic gear for gauging workout performance. Outside of wearables, soft robotic applications could include the production of responsive, self-correcting artificial muscles.
Additional testing will continue while the researchers work to conform the material to the shape and movements of the human body.