New Flexible Sensor Holds Potential For Foldable Touch Screens

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New Flexible Sensor Holds Potential For Foldable Touch Screens
This is a closeup of the flexible sensor. Credit: University of British Columbia

Imagine a tablet that you can fold into the size of a smart phone and put it in your pocket. Now, scientists are bringing this into reality. Scientists from the University of British Columbia have developed a new flexible sensor to use in advance devices.

The sensor consists of silicone layers that filled with highly conductive gel. Through this, it can detect different types of touch, including swiping, stretching, folding and bending. Due to such mind-blowing features, this new flexible sensor holds potential to be used in future devices. It also could be used as the artificial skin to feel temperature changes.

Researcher Mirza Saquib Sarwar, “There are sensors that can detect pressure, such as the iPhone’s 3D Touch, and some that can detect a hovering finger, like Samsung’s AirView. There are also sensors that are foldable, transparent and stretchable. Our contribution is a device that combines all those functions in one compact package.”

This new flexible sensor has the size of 5 cm x 5 cm. It addition, it could easily scale up to be used in inexpensive, widely available materials, including the gel and silicone.

Sarwar said, “It’s entirely possible to make a room-sized version of this sensor for just dollars per square meter, and then put sensors on the wall, on the floor, or over the surface of the body—almost anything that requires a transparent, stretchable touch screen. And because it’s cheap to manufacture, it could be embedded cost-effectively in disposable wearable like health monitors.”

According to scientists, it also holds the application in the robotic skin to make user interaction easier.

John Madden, Sarwar’s supervisor said, “Currently, machines are kept separate from humans in the workplace. It’s because of the possibility that they could injure humans. If a robot could detect our presence and be ‘soft’ enough that they don’t damage us during an interaction. We can safely exchange tools with them, they can pick up objects without damaging them, and they can safely probe their environment.”

ReferenceUniversity of British Columbia
Journal ReferenceDOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602200
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