The demand for more innovative technologies in different devices even for wearable devices is very high currently. A number of major players in the industry are competing to be the first ones to release the next big thing, which is most likely going to be flexible screens and touch pads.
A small research team from the Seoul National University in South Korea have developed their own version of flexible wearable technology in the form of a clear plastic touchpad that can be equipped on your arm. It has an amazing stretching capacity, being able to function even when it’s stretched to more than ten times its normal area.
Some its function include being used as a portable touchpad for another screen. In this setup, it can be used as a controller for games, play chess or the piano and you’re even able to take notes on it. Its basic functionality is not that impressive since it’s no different from what a normal smartphone can do. The novelty element and its most impressive feature is its high flexibility and can be equipped on your body. The research that made this technology possible can help more the industry forward at a faster pace. It could open the way for different kinds of implantable, foldable and bendable interfaces.
The research is published in the journal Science and it describes that the wearable touchpad is made of a polyacrylamide hydrogel-used in various medical operations and devices, drug treatment, water purification and food packaging products-which contains lithium chloride salts that make the hydrogel able to conduct electricity.
The touchpad incorporates electrodes on each end which form an electrostatic field across the hydrogel panel. When you press the pad using your finger, the electrical circuit is closed and a current is created. This current can be read by meters on each corner of the sheet and microprocessors compare the levels of electrical current to determine the finger’s position on the pad. This mechanic can easily be used by programmers to input controls for various software including various games like chess and Angry Birds.
The initial results are very promising but the Korean scientists have said more research is required because after 100 stretches the hydrogel tends to lose a bit of its electrical resistance and the touch pad becomes less responsive.
Would you want to use this type of wearable touchpad in the future?