A recent online survey showed consumer wearable tech use has plummeted. Tokyo researchers hope to help reverse this slump with their new printable, conductive, electronic ink, displayed at Berlin's IFA trade show. Jim Drury reports.
A recent US consumer study suggests wearable tech use is falling fast. But university of Tokyo researchers think their new conductive electronic ink could help buck the trend. SOUNDBITE (English) SHINRI SAKAI, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, SAYING: "Our special conductive ink is composed of elastomer and conductive particles. The special configuration, it's very easily printed on to the textile, which shows good conductivity, even if you expand the pattern more than 200 percent." Wearable tech is popular among fitness fanatics, helping them measure performance - but garments can be clunky and slow users down. This wrist-band muscle activity sensor prototype works wirelessly. SOUNDBITE (English) SHINRI SAKAI, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, SAYING: "Usually to detect the human signal you need to put one sensor and need to connect a wire to it. So if you need to put more than 100 sensors on to the body you need to put 100 wiring systems attached to the body." Their wrist-band sensor includes an elastic conductor printed on both sides of fabric, combined with a transistor amplifier circuit. Until now, creating a highly conductive ink that's stretchable has been a complicated process. This version is printed in a single stage and remains conductive even when the fabric stretches to double its size. Further tests are planned and the team says sportswear companies are eagerly awaiting the results.