Flexible Electronics: Overturning Intelligent Hardware

- Jul 26, 2018-

Especially for the emerging intelligent hardware industry, the flexible electronic components represented by flexible screen and flexible printed circuit board will liberate the imagination of our product form and overturn the existing product form and experience mode.
We saw some of these technological advances at the 2014 European printed electronics conference in Berlin last week.One of the most impressive technologies at the show came from flexible image sensors built by ISORG and Plastic Logic, which also won a product development award at the conference.
In the illustration above, a small Mona Lisa is placed directly on a sensor that combines Plastic Logic's flexible transistor technology (bottom) with ISORG's organic light detector technology (top).This large sensor is reading and transmitting the painting directly, and you can't do that with a standard CMOS image sensor, because that requires the minimum distance to focus.
The potential applications of this technology are very wide.Such sensors, for example, can be embedded under the screens of electronic devices, turning them into scanners and fingerprint sensors, and, of course, ushering in a new era of gesture control.The sensor USES infrared technology to read close to but not touch the screen.Here is an application that ISORG shows.
ISORG puts its sensor array directly behind the screen panel of a non-touch LCD display.In the image above, the operator's fingers do not touch the screen, but move over it, and the software can still track the movements of the fingers.This level of sensitivity is impressive.
Contactless control also has a lot of potential in medicine, which ISORG will target first, but the company will also look at consumer electronics, even web-connected devices without displays.The technology could also be used to develop user interfaces for wearables, while making photocopiers and scanners less bulky than they are today.
"A few years ago, it was hard to imagine a piece of plastic could be a camera, but now it is.""Said Laurent Jamet, co-founder of ISORG.
When it comes to reading displays, the technology shown above also has this capability.It may not be as high-tech as a flexible image sensor, but it's not very interesting.The technology, called Touchcode, comes from a company called T+Ink, which aims to replace relatively expensive RFID technology in some applications with its own technology.With RFID, you need to embed electronic components in things like bus passes or keychains.While T+Ink's technology requires only conductive Ink, it is clear that their technology can transmit information to readers in a cheaper, lighter, thinner and more flexible way.
Even better, any modern mobile device's display can be used as a reader because a capacitive screen is enough to scan the contents of conductive ink.This is obviously much easier than relying on a camera for a QR scan.
Below is a flexible temperature sensor array from PST Sensors, a branch of the university of Cape Town, South Africa.
Flexible electronics: overturning intelligent hardware
This electronic component also gives us a very cool feeling. It is printed from PST's patented silicon nanoparticles, which can enter a variety of ink types and can be attached to almost any surface.Silicon is an abundant and inexpensive material that is ideal for printing electronic components, such as temperature sensors, onto packaging.
The sensor array shown above can cover a wide area and record the temperature at a specific time point.The PST says it can make temperature sensors of any shape and size and place them anywhere.As founder David Britton says: "the benefit of printing electronics is not cost, but shape."
Flexible electronics: overturning intelligent hardware
The product pictured above comes from a company whose name sounds slightly unimaginative: Printed Electrics.The company's customers range from aerospace to automobiles, and the product in the picture was developed at the request of a customer who wanted to have a way to print electronics on any 3D surface.Now the company is trying to find other applications for the technology.At the show, the company showed me its technology: they printed circuits, microcontrollers, temperature sensors and leds directly on a bottle of wine.
Light sensors for blinds are not a new concept, but they are rarely integrated with the blinds themselves.
Flexible electronics: overturning intelligent hardware
The product pictured above comes from a Dutch company called Holst Centre Eindhoven.Their organic photodiodes sense the intensity of light and adjust the shutter opening and closing accordingly.The company is also working with chemical giant dupont to develop flexible plastic OLED lights.
Flexible electronics: overturning intelligent hardware
At the end of the article, the author wants to introduce a product of energy collection.At the exhibition, I remember the switches developed by Swiss company Algra very well.Their operation relies on the piezoelectric effect, in which tiny metal plates record only a few microns of press and convert it into energy to send wireless signals.
Flexible electronics: overturning intelligent hardware
At the end of the article, the author wants to introduce a product of energy collection.At the exhibition, I remember the switches developed by Swiss company Algra very well.Their operation relies on the piezoelectric effect, in which tiny metal plates record only a few microns of press and convert it into energy to send wireless signals.