Enabling Smart Wearable Technology: Flexible, Stretchable Interconnect


Reading time ( words)

Breakthroughs in wearable electronics are driving exciting, innovative applications in the health, wellness, safety and entertainment markets. But as the user experience matures, product design is driven as much by fashion and style as it is by form, fit, and function. The human-centric element has created a paradigm for the printed circuit, interconnect designers and fabricators. No longer is the printed circuit a mechanically static, controlled-environment technology. Now it must survive continuous dynamic stresses brought on by flexing, bending, twisting, stretching and dropping in an uncontrolled use environment. This article highlights the current and forward-looking interconnect technologies enabling the stream of amazing new smart wearable electronic devices connecting the user to their personalized experience.

Background

Wearable technology is not new. Anyone who experienced the 1970s remembers the Mood Ring, designed with a thermotropic liquid crystal material inside or surrounding the stone of the ring that changed color as the wearer’s body temperature changed. The colors inferred the various moods of the user: blue for calm, violet for happy, black for tense, and so on. The wearer had visual feedback with which they could choose to alter his mood.

The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web began to revolutionize culture and commerce, initially through instant communication such as electronic mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), social networking and online shopping. By the late 1990s, physical objects (things) were embedded with electronics, such as software and sensors, and connected to the Internet and thus the Internet of Things (IoT) was born.

According to Gartner Inc., by the year 2020, there will be approximately 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things. In 2014, the Pew Research Center Internet Project canvassed technology experts and Internet users about the evolution of embedded devices and the Internet/Cloud of Things by 2025. Eighty-three percent of the respondents agreed that Internet of Things will have widespread and beneficial effects on the everyday lives of the public by 2025.

According to the Global Wearable Technology Market Research Report 2018, “The global wearable technology market stood at $750 million in 2012 and is expected to reach $5.8 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 40.8% from 2012-2018. North America is expected to maintain its lead position at 43% of the global wearable technology revenue share in 2018 followed by Europe”. And from the Wearable Electronics and Technology Market by Applications, “The overall wearable electronics and technology market is estimated to grow $11.61 billion by the end of 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.56%, from 2014 to 2020”. Based on current market analysis and technology spends, wearable technology is anchored in the future of the IoT.

With the evolution of the IoT, advancements in personal computing technologies have driven printed circuit and printed electronics technology enhancements, power management improvements, wireless module development and overall miniaturization, creating mobile communication devices that fit in the palm of one’s hand. The smart phone has enabled personalization of information, social connections and entertainment.

Today, wearable technology has enabled smart, connected devices for personal health and wellness, enhancement of one’s safety and the ability to form an individualized entertainment experience. This personal ecosystem is often hubbed by one’s smart phone, with information stored on the Cloud and conveniently shared with social networks. The Internet of Things is morphing into the age of the "Intelligence of Things". As more and more wearable electronics connect to the Internet and provide electronic feedback to support our health, wellness, safety and entertainment decisions, this phenomenon is driving the next age—one of smart, connected living.

Read The Full Article Here

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine.

Share




Suggested Items

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

05/13/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
The big news in the industry this week was the new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress in support of the PCB manufacturing industry. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), incentivizes “purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.” The bill is a PCB-oriented complement to the semiconductor-oriented CHIPS Act of 2021.

Improved Thermal Interface Materials For Cooling High-Power Electronics

03/31/2022 | Jeff Brandman, Aismalibar North America
Heat has been a significant concern in electronics since the beginning of the electronics age when hot glowing vacuum tubes were first used to receive and transmit data bits. The transistor and integrated circuit effectively solved that basic problem, but increases in integration resulted in increased concentration of heat, exacerbated by relentless increases in operating frequency. While improvements in electronics technology have been able to mitigate many thermal issues at chip level thanks to improved semiconductor designs devised to operate at lower voltages (thus requiring less energy) the thermal management challenge continues to vex electronic product developers.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

03/25/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
It’s been a crazy week, with lots of bad news coming out of Ukraine. (I’m a news junkie by trade, but I confess that some days I just unplug from the news completely to avoid overdosing on negativity.) And, as you might have guessed, this is all having ill effects on our electronics supply chain, which is already stretched thin. This is reflected in our IPC news item that shows an uptick in PCB sales in February, but a drop in bookings YOY, in part due to the trouble in Eastern Europe. But there’s positive news in this week’s top reads. We have a NextFlex article about an innovative flexible technology called flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and a great interview by Dan Beaulieu. We also have a column by Travis Kelly, who discusses PCBAA’s efforts to lobby for American manufacturing in Washington. And last but not least, let’s welcome our two newest columnists, Paige Fiet and Hannah Nelson, who discuss their excitement about entering this industry.



Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.