IoT embedded in clothing is becoming more and more mainstream. Clothes go through a lot more wear and tear compared to our smart devices though. Now, a new kind of smart material is ready to combat that.
At Harvard’s Wyss Institute engineers have managed to make a durable, customizable flex sensor by using a simple yet effective layering method. The layers are somewhat like a material sandwich of conductive fabric above and below a silicone filling. The fabric can stretch, when that happens the silicone gets thinner causing the conductive layers to get closer together. This motion changes their capacitance and produces a different electrical signal.
This method, where the assembled layers with fabric laid on the liquid silicone, physically locks them together; allowing the signal to increase predictability. The fabric always compares to a base capacitance, so even slight stretching creates a direct measurable change. The team made a glove using this material method, and managed to track and measure very fine movements of the fingers.
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