Scientists have created a sensor that can work effectively as foldable touch screens.
Huge, bulky tablets take up space and may be difficult to carry and keep secure. Imagine taking your tablet and folding it up to put it in your pocket like a smaller phone. Luckily, you may not have to imagine doing this before long. A new invention may be the next step towards the future of mobile devices, robotics, medicine, and more.
Engineers at the University of British Columbia have published a study detailing their research and production of this exciting invention. The sensor in question is made up of a conductive gel and a silicone covering. The gel contains electrodes and is highly sensitive to touch, and it can register motions like tapping and swiping. It can also detect a finger hovering just above it. Folding, bending, and rolling do not affect the sensor's effectiveness in any way. If we incorporate this technology into mobile devices, our tablets and phones may be even more portable than ever before.
If you spill coffee on the foldable touch screen, don't panic. The researchers have found that liquid won't damage the sensor. Foldable and coffee-proof? Trips to Starbucks just got better.
What makes this invention even more amazing is that the materials that make up the sensor are inexpensive and quite common. For now, the available prototype measures five by five centimeters, but it can be much larger. Because the materials are inexpensive, the sensor can be made to cover the walls of an entire room. "It's entirely possible to make a room-sized version of this sensor for just dollars per square meter,” says Mirza Saquib Sarwar, one of the researchers.
Aside from foldable touch screens, the sensor can also function as a health monitor. Because of its elastic properties, it can be worn as artificial skin to detect vital signs. There's also the possibility of using the sensor for smartwear. It can also function as robot skins to make the machines safer for humans. The sensor can allow the robots to detect if there is a human close by. This way, human workers can avoid accidents and injuries.
There have been previous attempts at creating foldable touch screens in the past. These attempts failed because the prototypes were unable to withstand folding and bending. This new attempt, however, seems to be successful. It has even far exceeded the expectation of simply being able to bend and fold. It has so many possible applications and can aid in so many vital tasks.
For something so inexpensive, this new invention has a lot of potential. From foldable touch screens to artificial human skin, it certainly presents a wealth of exciting possibilities.
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