HomeTech NewsEpidermal Computing: How far the research in wafer-thin circuits is

Epidermal Computing: How far the research in wafer-thin circuits is

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Man and technology are getting closer and closer. The first adapted technical prototypes are electronics in the form of wafer-thin foils that are worn on the skin.

Devices for the desk and even smartphones for the pocket can be bulky, hard and made of metal. The industry mounts silicon chips, capacitors, LEDs and batteries on rigid printed circuit boards – the customer doesn’t mind. But according to the visions of “ubiquitous computing” or ubiquitous computing, computers will continue to permeate our everyday lives, connecting us to the digital world anytime, anywhere. They should collect data and give feedback inconspicuously in clothing or everyday objects. Ultimately, they could end up directly on our skin. To do this, they not only have to be soft, but also stretchy in order to adapt to every movement.

The focus of the development of such technology is the search for new materials. Wafer-thin plastic films can nestle against the body for high wearing comfort. In order to produce electronic devices from them, however, the polymers must be electrically conductive, made to glow when subjected to voltage or, when it comes to the production of flexible transistors, have semiconductor properties.

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All of this already exists. The main problem for research groups like that of Professor Jürgen Steimle at the Laboratory for Human-Computer Interaction at Saarland University is to make the slides robust enough for everyday use. Under laboratory conditions, prototypes can already be worn on the skin as input or output devices. In the long term, sensors could record bodily functions without users having to wear a smartwatch at night.

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