IDTechEx: Ultraflexible Devices for Wearable Electronics

IDTechEx Ultrathin Electronics

If wearable Health Tech devices are truly going to “disappear” then they will have to become like a second skin. And that’s exactly what a group of scientists from the University of Tokyo are working on, as presented in a session at the IDTechEx conference last week in Santa Clara, California. They are working at creating printed circuitry on flexible plastic substrates that are unbelievably thin. They are working with 1 micron thick films; that’s about one-tenth the thickness of an average human hair. That’s so thin that a sheet a couple inches square is so light that it falls much slower than a feather.

The researchers have created flexible circuits on this material that not only survive bending, but they can be crumpled up and still work. One of the advantages of these ultrathin films is that there is much less strain between the top and bottom sides when it is bent, because the difference in the radius of the two sides is much smaller than it would be with a thicker substrate. As a result, they can build flexible devices — even with multiple layers as shown above — that can be adhered directly to the skin of a subject.

The potential for this flexible and durable technology is endless. Not only can the sensors be fabricated in this way, but the signals can be processed using printed circuitry on ultrathin substrates as well. With low-power components and thin film batteries or energy harvesting power, it could lead to sensors that are as easy to apply as a bandage and that communicate their data wirelessly to a controller for processing and forwarding. They could be “set it and forget it” products that deliver on the promise of making wearable Health Tech devices “disappear” into our daily lives.

IDTechEx: Printable Batteries Pack Flexible Power

IDTechEx Imprint Energy ZincPoly

Digital electronics require power, and for most wearable Health Tech electronic devices, this power comes from batteries. Energy harvesting is making great strides, but batteries remain the most convenient and affordable power solution. Unfortunately, the traditional penlight rigid cylinder is not well suited to wearable devices; even small coin batteries can be intrusive. The ideal […]

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IDTechEx: Sensors Woven into Washable Fabric [video]

IDTechEx OMsignal

This is a fitness product, and as such, I wouldn’t usually cover it here in Health Tech Insider. But this shirt from OMsignal is special because its sensors are woven directly into the fabric of the clothing. Other systems print sensors onto the fabric, or adhere components to the clothing, but this is a more […]

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IDTechEx: Sweat Sensors Can Speed Healing

IDTechEx Electrozyme

The IDTechEx conference was last week, but we’ve still got more great information from that event to cover here. For example, a presentation by Dr. Joshua Windmiller of Electrozyme explored the potential benefits of real-time sweat sensors. We’ve written about sweat here before (“Unlocking the Secrets of Sweat” and “Printed Battery Powered by Sweat“), but […]

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IDTechEx: Wearable Artificial Pancreas [video]

IDTechEx Pancreum 1

Pancreum was one of the many wearable Health Tech companies that made presentations at the IDTechEx conference this week in Santa Clara, California. The company is focused on remote patient monitoring and similar applications. According to Guilherme de Paul, founder and CEO/CTO of the company, a multi-sensor system that can track patients during the days […]

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IDTechEx: Simulation Guides Wireless Implant Development [video]

IDTechEx CST RF Simulation 1

One of the exhibitors at this week’s IDTechEx conference was CST of America. One of the company’s specialties is the simulation of bio-electromagnetics. In short, this provides software simulation of the effects of different frequency radio waves on the human body, as well as on objects attached to the skin or embedded inside tissues. This […]

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IDTechEx: Stretchable Electronics on the Way

IDTechEx Stretch Electronics

One of the recurring themes in the presentations at the IDTechEx conference was the need to for wearable Health Tech devices to “disappear” into our daily lives. These products can’t be intrusive, but rather become a part of our normal day-to-day habits. One important key to helping these devices merge into the background of our […]

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IDTechEx: Digital Health to Disrupt Healthcare

IDTechEx Bayer Digital Health

More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to medical care, but do have access to cellphones. According to Dirk Schapeler, Director of Digital Health for Bayer HealthCare LLC, the cost that results from patients not adhering to their treatment regimen costs more than $100 billion every year in the U.S. alone. And Schapeler sees […]

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IDTechEx: Low-Cost Sensors Drive Wearable Growth

IDTechEx Sensors

Grains of sand? Tiny jewels? Actually, the photo above shows items that fall somewhere between. They are miniature sensors, and they cost a bit more than sand but far less than precious stones. And yet they can perform miracles when it comes to gathering data in wearable Health Tech (and other) devices. Chris Turkstra, Head […]

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IDTechEx Conference Explores Wearable Future

IDTechEx Wearable Trends

This week, I’m attending a series of co-located conferences organized by IDTechEx. The exhibit hall and presentations cover wearables, printed electronics, the Internet of Things, energy harvesting and storage, and 3D printing. The result is a synergistic combination that defines the driving forces behind the grown in wearable Health Tech devices. I expect that I’ll […]

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