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Meet The New Wave Of Wearables: Stretchable Electronics

June 20, 2016

Scientists have figured out how to make electronics as pliable as a temporary tattoo—meaning the next big tech platform may be your skin.

"With the technology finally advancing to the point of commercialization, stretchable electronics may soon impact everything from medical research to mobile payments to the way you navigate a crowded amusement park."

None of this was possible until 2006, when John Rogers, the head of the Rogers Research Group at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, published a paper with three of his colleagues explaining how they had developed a stretchable form of silicon by cutting and patterning the material into waves, allowing it to expand or compress like an accordion. It was a revelation: silicon, the most widely used semiconductor in electronics, is naturally hard and brittle. That’s fine if you’re building a smartwatch, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating ultra-malleable devices that feel more like a second skin. Rogers’s achievement has sparked a flurry of activity in other university labs as engineers and scientists try to further his work and develop uses for it. 'This is where wearables are likely to go next,' says Rogers. 'A lot of people see this as the future.'"

"Rogers, who is moving his lab to Northwestern University in September, cofounded a company called MC10, a Massachusetts-based startup dedicated to bringing stretchable electronics to market. The company worked with L’Oréal on My UV Patch and has developed another device, the BioStamp Research Connect, which measures body motion, muscle activity, and heart rate. Thanks to a partnership with the manufacturer PCH International, MC10 began selling the BioStamp to researchers and companies earlier this year. "It’s essentially a body-worn computer," says Roozbeh Ghaffari, MC10’s cofounder and VP of technology."

Read the full Fast Company article here.

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