New Zealand-based StretchSense has developed a new sensor made of flexible fabric that could one day be a constant power source for gadgets such as smart watches and other next-gen wearable devices.
The sensor, which can be sewn into garments or gadgets through a zone around the active area of the sensor, works by harvesting and storing energy from a wearer's natural body movements throughout the day
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The sensors also function as sources of data about how soft objects move and interact, according to the company.The company also offers fabric-based sensors for stretch, pressure, bend, and shear for applications such as sports coaching, healthcare, and rehabilitation.
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StretchSense’s bend sensor, for example, uses elements of both stretch and pressure for applications that require joint-angle measurements or measurements of flexible materials like rubber. In some applications, this sensor can be used to provide insight into parameters that affect deformation in soft materials, the company said.
StretchSense's technology is not yet commercially available. To help manufacturers and other device makers become more familiar with the technology, StretchSensor offers evaluation kits for testing and prototyping new applications. The sensors work straight out of the box with the StretchSense Android app, which is available for free on the Google Play store.
The evaluation kits also gives device makers an opportunity to add customization to the sensors, which StretchSense said it’s willing to do on a number of features. The company offers custom sensor geometry; tailored sensor stiffness properties; various sensor mounting methods, such as adhesive or Velcro; and sensor-to-circuit connection style for cabling optimization as options for integration into customer devices and applications.
Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.