Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Thin wearable device can collect physical data, double as robotic skin

Wearable devices such as smartwatches and health trackers are quite helpful, but can also be heavy and a bit uncomfortable. To eradicate this problem, researchers have created a new type of wearable device that is hardly even noticeable.

A team of researchers from the University of Houston have created a multifunctional ultra-thin wearable electronic device that lets the wearer move naturally without having to wear any uncomfortable equipment, and is also less noticeable than wearing a band-aid.

“Everything is very thin, just a few microns thick. You will not be able to feel it,” said Cunjiang Yu, lead author of the study published in Science Advances.

The device is actually a metal oxide semiconductor on a polymer base and provides manufacturing advantages and can also be processed at temperatures lower than 300°C, wrote Science Daily. It can be used to collect multiple physical data of the wearer.

The device can also function as a prosthetic skin for a robotic hand or any other robotic device, with a vigorous human-machine interface that permits it to automatically gather data and communicate it back to the wearer.

Not only it has applications for health care, it will also be beneficial in situations like chemical spills that are risky for humans but need human decision-making based on physical inspection.

“We report an ultrathin, mechanically imperceptible, and stretchable (human-machine interface) HMI device, which is worn on human skin to capture multiple physical data and also on a robot to offer intelligent feedback, forming a closed-loop HMI,” the researchers wrote.

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