Birth of the Wearable Touchscreen
Two years ago a company called Cicret introduced their idea for a bracelet that would turn your arm into a touch screen. The idea was met with a lot of skepticism and quickly shot down by many as expected. Though the newest development in touch technology might not display your screen on your arm, but a wearable touch screen may not be that far from the future.
A group of researchers at the Seoul National University have developed a wearable clear computer touchpad. You can use the soft pad to scroll and click, doodle, or even play games. Like a smartphone screen, it works for the user in the same way. The touchpad was created in a laboratory by a team of materials scientists led by Chong-Chan Kim.
The team uses a flexible panel made of hydrogel with lithium chloride salts. The salts act as a conductor and help retain the water in the hydrogel, preventing it from drying out and becoming brittle.
There are electrodes on the ends of the panel, which apply similar voltages and create a uniform electrostatic field. When in use a small AC voltage applied to all four corners of the touchpad generates signals that are in phase, but no current flows until the touchpad is actually touched. When there is pressure on the panel, it closes the strip at the touch point and the machine is able to detect where the electrical signals using metres at the corners of the strip.
After 100 cycles the resistance was found to increase slightly, which the researchers suggest may be due to water evaporation in the gel. The pad can even be stretched to 1000 percent its normal area and still be used. Because the touch panel can be bonded directly to skin, some people have been suggesting that this biocompatible touchpad could be implanted into skin one day.
The touchpad is transparent (lets through 98 percent of visible light), suggesting that if combined with a stretchable video display, it is possible to create a stretchy touchscreen. Many are speculating that this technology will most likely be used in the gaming industry, revolutionizing current gaming experiences, or perhaps even opening up completely new forms of gaming experience. If this touchpad continues to be developed, it would most likely bring many new possibilities to not only the gaming industry, but the world of advertising, biotechnology, as well as many other industries.