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The Retention Guru
The Retention Guru
The Retention Guru
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Research: Functional wearables

A new ultra-thin, stretchable electronic material could be a game changer for wearable tech

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

A new ultra-thin, stretchable electronic material that allows a product to “breathe” could have the potential to help create more functional wearable tech.

Created by a team of engineering researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU), the as-yet-unnamed material combines a stretchable polymer film with silver nanowires, making it flexible but highly conductive.

Allows sweat to evaporate
Being gas permeable, the material allows sweat and organic compounds to evaporate from the skin – making it more comfortable for users, especially for long-term wear.

Designed specifically to be used in wearable tech solutions, the product is only a few micrometers thick – allowing for better contact with the skin and giving the electronics a better “signal-to-noise ratio”.

“The resulting film shows an excellent combination of electric conductivity, optical transmittance and water-vapor permeability,” said Yong Zhu, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NCSU.

“The gas permeability is the big advance over earlier stretchable electronics – and because the silver nanowires are embedded just below the surface of the polymer, the material also exhibits excellent stability in the presence of sweat and after long-term wear.”

To demonstrate its potential for use in wearables, researchers tested prototypes for two representative applications:

The first prototype consisted of skin-mountable, dry electrodes for use as electrophysiologic sensors. These have multiple potential applications, such as measuring electrocardiography (ECG) and electromyography (EMG) signals.

“The sensors were able to record signals with excellent quality, on a par with commercially available electrodes,” Zhu says.

Human:machine interface
The second prototype demonstrated textile-integrated touch-sensing for human-machine interfaces. The authors used a wearable textile sleeve integrated with the porous electrodes to play computer games, such as Tetris.

“If we want to develop wearable sensors or user interfaces that can be worn for a significant period of time, we need gas-permeable electronic materials,” Zhu added. “So this is a significant step forward.”

Find out more: FitTechglobal.com/breathe

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

Research: Functional wearables

A new ultra-thin, stretchable electronic material could be a game changer for wearable tech

Published in Fit Tech 2020 issue 2

A new ultra-thin, stretchable electronic material that allows a product to “breathe” could have the potential to help create more functional wearable tech.

Created by a team of engineering researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU), the as-yet-unnamed material combines a stretchable polymer film with silver nanowires, making it flexible but highly conductive.

Allows sweat to evaporate
Being gas permeable, the material allows sweat and organic compounds to evaporate from the skin – making it more comfortable for users, especially for long-term wear.

Designed specifically to be used in wearable tech solutions, the product is only a few micrometers thick – allowing for better contact with the skin and giving the electronics a better “signal-to-noise ratio”.

“The resulting film shows an excellent combination of electric conductivity, optical transmittance and water-vapor permeability,” said Yong Zhu, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NCSU.

“The gas permeability is the big advance over earlier stretchable electronics – and because the silver nanowires are embedded just below the surface of the polymer, the material also exhibits excellent stability in the presence of sweat and after long-term wear.”

To demonstrate its potential for use in wearables, researchers tested prototypes for two representative applications:

The first prototype consisted of skin-mountable, dry electrodes for use as electrophysiologic sensors. These have multiple potential applications, such as measuring electrocardiography (ECG) and electromyography (EMG) signals.

“The sensors were able to record signals with excellent quality, on a par with commercially available electrodes,” Zhu says.

Human:machine interface
The second prototype demonstrated textile-integrated touch-sensing for human-machine interfaces. The authors used a wearable textile sleeve integrated with the porous electrodes to play computer games, such as Tetris.

“If we want to develop wearable sensors or user interfaces that can be worn for a significant period of time, we need gas-permeable electronic materials,” Zhu added. “So this is a significant step forward.”

Find out more: FitTechglobal.com/breathe

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
interview

Daniel Sobhani, Freeletics

People are set up for failure by the fitness industry with false promises and unrealistic expectations. We’ve always wanted to put a stop to this, and with Mindset Coaching we’re taking the next step
interview

Paul Bowman, Wexer

The future of fitness is hybrid, says the CEO of Wexer. He shares his thoughts on why and how the industry should embrace this change
people

Ian Mullane

Founder, Keepme
Using predictive and machine learning models, operators can hyper-personalise engagement
interview

PureGym

We’ve been ranked number two on the App Store for health and fitness, second only to Fitbit
interview

Forme Life: Trent Ward & Yves Béhar

The screen is effectively a six foot tablet, so developing the product from scratch took time, lots of testing and millions of cycles
people

Patrick Lucey

VP of AI, Stats Perform
We can capture tracking data from historical videos, enabling us to do large scale comparisons of players, such as Michael Jordan, across eras
people

Richard Hanbury

Founder and CEO, Sana
I was in Yemen, close to the capital, Sana’a, when I had the accident that put me in a wheelchair and gave me a chronic nerve damage pain problem. This led me to develop the underlying technology of Sana
interview

Lindsay Cook, FitOn

Not everyone can afford an expensive piece of fitness equipment or a personal trainer, but everyone has a smartphone

Fighting COVID-19

In the aftermath of the pandemic, people will be more aware of the importance of their health and the strength of their immune system. Can fit tech alert users to potential immunodeficiencies or symptoms? And might these products assist governments? We asked industry leaders for their predictions

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A breakthrough in technology means wearable devices and other health and fitness products could soon be self-powered. Steph Eaves talks to Dr Ishara Dharmasena to find out how this could impact health and fitness

Functional wearables

A new ultra-thin, stretchable electronic material could be a game changer for wearable tech
interview

Digital ecosystem

The digitisation of the sector was going to happen anyway. COVID-19 has simply accelerated the digital transformation
The Retention Guru
The Retention Guru