每日英語跟讀 Ep.941: A Wearable Technology That Fits Just Like Skin
It is almost certain that the next era of computing will be wearables. But it is commensurately uncertain what these wearables will be and where on your body they will be worn.
Apple and Samsung, for example, are betting on the wrist; Google, the face. Some tech companies believe clothing will simply become electronic. Yet there’s a whole new segment of start-ups that believes we humans will become the actual computers, or at least the place where the technology will reside.
These start-ups are working on a class of wearable computers that adhere to the skin like temporary tattoos, or attach to the body like an adhesive bandage.
Many of these technologies are stretchable, bendable and incredibly thin. They can also be given unique designs, to stand out like a bold tattoo, or to blend in to the color of your skin.
Attachable computers will be less expensive to make and provide greater accuracy because sensors will be closer to a person’s body (or even inside us) .
MC10, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is testing attachable computers about the size of a piece of gum that can include wireless antennas, temperature and heartrate sensors and a tiny battery.
Scott Pomerantz, head of MC10, said: “Ours are always on you. We have the smallest, most flexible, stretchable, wearable computer, and you can collect all sorts of biometric data tied to your motion.”
MC10 recently teamed up with John A. Rogers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has been working for nearly a decade to perfect flexible devices that can be worn on the skin or implanted .
How would these gadgets work? Maybe you want to figure out which deodorant would be best for you. A sticker that tracks your sweat level would email you a few recommendations. Or if you want to monitor your baby’s breathing, a little sensor on the baby’s chest would alert you to any problems.
“We’ll eventually see a more intimate integration of electronics and biological systems,” Mr. Rogers said . “Without that kind of intimate physical contact, it’s going to be difficult, or maybe even impossible, to extract meaningful data.”
The health applications are enormous. Over the past year, Mr. Rogers and his team of scientists have been working with patients with Parkinson’s disease to monitor their motions, with dermatologists to treat skin diseases, and with beauty companies like L’Oreal to develop digital stickers that track skin hydration.
Anke Loh of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has been experimenting with making the attachable computers look like body art. “You see these patches and you really want to put them on your skin, even without knowing what the function is,” Ms. Loh said . “There’s a lot of potential to combine fashion and technology.”
Scientists at the University of Tokyo have been working on an “e-skin,” which is an electronic skin that sits on top of real skin. It looks like a stretchable sheet of plastic wrap, yet contains lots of health-related sensors.
In another iteration of e-skin, scientists are working to add a layer of LEDs, turning it into a screen that sits on the body.
Digital skins offer numerous applications, not only in monitoring a user’s health, but also as a visual user interface. They may even replace smartphones one day.
But don’t throw aside your smartwatch or Google Glass just yet. It will be a while before our wearable future becomes known.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/268839/web/