Researchers have recently unveiled an exciting breakthrough in wearable technology – a fabric armband that doubles as a touch pad. By using a three-layer touch-responsive material, the silk armband transforms the user’s forearm into a keyboard or sketchpad, allowing for easy video game playing, cartoon sketching, and document signing. While computer trackpads and electronic signature-capture devices are commonplace, this innovative fabric armband is a game-changer in the world of wearables.
To create a comfortable and user-friendly touch-responsive panel for drawing or gaming, researchers have developed a unique approach. While clear, electrically conductive hydrogels were suggested for this purpose, they proved difficult to write on and irritating to the skin. Instead, the team, led by Xueji Zhang, Lijun Qu, and Mingwei Tian, incorporated a pressure-sensitive hydrogel into a knit silk fabric sleeve. The hydrogel was sandwiched between layers of silk, with graphene nanosheets added to the top layer to make the fabric electrically conductive. This resulted in a pressure-responsive pad that could detect and interpret movements in real-time, allowing for smooth writing and gameplay when a finger is slid over the fabric. The system was also equipped with electrodes and a data collection mechanism for further accuracy.
After successful development of the pressure-responsive pad, the researchers incorporated it into a silk sleeve that covered the entire arm. The sleeve featured a touch-responsive area on the forearm that could be used for various tasks. In experiments, users were able to control the direction of blocks in a computer game and sketch colorful cartoons using a computer drawing program through the armband. This innovative wearable touch panel has the potential to inspire the creation of flexible keyboards and sketchpads in the future, opening up a new realm of possibilities for wearable technology.
Source: American Chemical Society