New “skin” could help prosthetics and robots sense injuries

June 28, 2021

When a person bumps an elbow against a wall, they not only feel pain but can also experience bruising. But robots and prosthetic limbs don’t have these warning signs, and that could lead to further injury. Researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have developed an artificial skin that senses force through ionic signals and changes color …

Solar desalination unit tested

May 24, 2021

Although a large percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, most of it is undrinkable. Removing the salt, compounds and microbes that make it unsafe to drink could expand the world’s supply of safe drinking water and address many human health concerns.   Desalination is an important technology that could help accomplish this, and …

Researchers create a stretchy “biological battery”

March 22, 2021

Researchers at Colorado University (CU) Boulder have developed a new, low-cost wearable device that transforms the human body into a biological battery. The device is stretchy enough that it can be worn like a ring, a bracelet or any accessory that touches the skin. The device taps into a person’s natural heat, employing thermoelectric generators to …

Soft actuators used to create an insect-sized drone

Video: MIT.  If you’ve ever swatted a mosquito away from your face, only to have it return, you know that insects can be remarkably acrobatic and resilient in flight. Those traits help them navigate the aerial world, with its wind gusts and obstacles. MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen has built a drone system that …

Collaboration yields bio-based garment

March 8, 2021

Designer Phillip Lim has partnered with New York-based industrial designer Charlotte McCurdy to create a dress made of a biodegradable base layer and covered in algae-grown bioplastic sequins.  Dezeen.com reports that the collaboration is part of the One X One project, an incubator organized by the Slow Factory Foundation that pairs high-profile designers with sustainability innovators. “Sustainability in fashion is not …

ShadowSense gives robots a sense of “touch”

February 22, 2021

Touch-sensitive electronic skin for robots is a project under development by a number of groups. Cornell University reports that scientists there are pursuing a simpler approach, however, using shadow-imaging cameras to let robots know when they’re being touched. Known as ShadowSense, the experimental system incorporates a USB-powered laptop-connected camera, located beneath a non-electronic translucent “skin” on a soft-bodied …

Researchers create thread that senses and tracks movement

February 8, 2021

Engineers at Tufts University in Massachusetts have created and demonstrated flexible thread-based sensors that can measure movement of the neck, providing data on the direction, angle of rotation and degree of displacement of the head.  The discovery raises the potential for thin, inconspicuous tatoo-like patches that could, according to the Tufts team, measure athletic performance, …

Absorbent film could lead to sweat-powered wearables

January 25, 2021

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a new film that can absorb sweat and potentially use the moisture to power wearable electronics. For sweat to cool us down properly, it needs to evaporate, which carries the heat away. The new film is designed to speed that process up, with the research …

MIT researchers send sensing fabrics to the ISS for testing

December 21, 2020

A team of MIT researchers has sent samples of high-tech fabrics, some with embedded sensors or electronics, to the International Space Station (ISS). According to information released by MIT News, the samples will be exposed to the space environment for a year to determine a baseline for how well these materials survive the harsh environment of …

Fruit fly eye study could impact future textiles

October 26, 2020

Russian and Swiss scientists have learned how to replicate a nanocoating with antimicrobial, anti-reflective and self-cleaning properties, based on the structures covering the corneas of fruit fly eyes, that could find applications in the textile industry. Researchers from Far Eastern Federal University teamed with colleagues from the University of Geneva, the University of Lausanne and Zurich’s Swiss …