Over the past two years, wearable technology has gone from the stuff of science fiction to reality. Between fitness trackers that can report on everything from the quality of your sleep to your heart rate, to smart watches that can mimic a phone, we’ve come a long way. Engineers have worked non-stop to make their dreams come true and the entire marketplace is benefiting as a result.
And we’re about to go even further thanks to some new advances in this technology. The Institute of Optoelectronics Systems and Microtechnology (ISOM) at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) recently announced that they have developed a new material that will revolutionize wearables.
The team was able to create optical nanosensors that are capable of adhering to uneven surfaces as well as biological surfaces – like human skin. So far, these devices are capable of monitoring many things, such as temperature, rate of breathing and even blood pressure. And, unlike expensive wearable tech devices, these are relatively low cost since they are made of standard polycarbonate compact disks, aluminum films and adhesive tapes.
According to Science Daily, the team created, “Nanosensors that consist of dimensional nanohole arrays (250 nm) which are drilled into an aluminum layer (100 nm thick). In order to cause sensitivity to the surrounding mediums and iridescence effects, these nanostructures confine and disperse light according to the will of the engineer who designs them.”
Typically, highly sensitive sensors are created using gold or other noble metals, which in turn drives the cost of production up and of course, the end cost to the consumer. These new sensors are made of aluminum which is approximately 25,000 times cheaper than gold. Plus, this material sticks well to adhesive tape.
Not only is this an exciting breakthrough for medical engineers, it also has the potential to impact the entire wearable marketplace. Fitness trackers could utilize these data types to give users an even broader picture of their overall health.
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