There is not much doubt when it comes to wearable being one of the most important devices in the market today. Also, the wearable will play a major role in how we interact with technology in the coming future. Already, big technology companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and many more tech giants have started building their own wearables but the next gen wearables are expected to be much better than the one already made.
How will the next gen wearables be different from the present ones?
The present-day wearables are mostly rigid. The devices, which feel like gadgets to our hands, have become an important part of our lives. Instead of being soft as additional clothing accessories, the wearable feel like additional jewelry. For attracting more people and for gaining a better place in the market, these devices will need to become more like daily wear and less like jewelry.
The engineers of materials understand this and hence, for years they have been working on ways to make the gadgets even more flexible and useful. A team of researchers from North Carolina State University have now inched closer to the development of next gen wearable with the creation of touch-sensitive and elastic fibers that can interface with electronic devices.
In the journal “Advanced Functional Materials,” Michael Dickey, the corresponding author of a paper describing the technology, says, “Touch is a common way to interact with electronics using keyboards and touchscreens.”
How do touch-sensitive fibers work?
The elastic and touch-sensitive fibers work by using a liquid metal alloy and strand of tube-like polymers. Firstly, the three strands of tube-like polymers are twisted together with the liquid metal alloy in their center and next one strand is completely filled with the alloy. Note – Each strand must be a little wider than a human hair. Next, the second strand is two-third filled with the alloy and the last strand in one-third filled with the alloy.
The human finger – when it moves along the fiber- comes into contact with different strands. Also, the human finger comes in contact with the capacitance between the finger. This enables the alloy to change, which alerts a connected system about the part of the fiber that is being touched.
It is being hoped that this technology will not only be used in future wearables but also in soft robotics and other apps where elasticity is essential, particularly as the fibers are easy to produce in large amounts at high speeds and can integrate with existing textiles.
Dickey said in the journal, “We have created soft and stretchable fibers that can detect touch, as well as strain and twisting. These microscopic fibers may be useful for integrating electronics in new places.”