Electronic cotton and stretchable silicon


Over at our sponsor Intel's My Life Scoop site, I wrote about the future of wearable computing:

Electronic Cotton
Several university laboratories are developing transistors — the building blocks of all computers — that are literally woven from cotton fibers. In a recent project led by Cornell University’s Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory, engineers coated cotton with gold nano particles and a conductive polymer layer. So far, they’ve only created simple circuits as a proof of concept. The first applications will likely be, say, clothing with chemical sensors for firefighters or shirts that measure vital signs. But according to Lab director Juan Hinestroza, “If you think about how many fibers you have in your T-shirt, and how many interconnections you have between the weft and the warp of the fabric, you could get pretty decent computing power.”

Stretchable Silicon
University of Illinois nano scientist John Rogers developed a method to print ultra-thin silicon circuits, like those on a computer chip, onto a highly-elastic surface that you can stick on your skin. Think of a temporary tattoo containing electronic components that are one-fifth the thickness of human hair. The possible uses of this are broad, ranging from a tiny patch that will detect when you need more sunscreen and alert you, to implantable (yes implantable) sensors that keep a constant vigil for infections inside the body. Rogers spun out a company called MC10 to commercialize the technology and has already partnered with Reebok on a forthcoming wearable device to track athletic performance.

"Smartly Dressed: The Future of Wearable Computing"


  1. The last time I was in the hospital, I had to wear a device the size of a car stereo in the “pocket” of my hospital scrubs just to monitor my vitals. I applaud any effort that doesn’t require me to wear a big metal brick when I’m already having trouble moving and sleeping because of an IV.

  2. Pesco, this is exactly the kind of forward looking neat stuff you used to write at TheFeature.com (before it was Japanese). Good grief, I miss that site and your articles there! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Off topic: As I was reading the headline of the article above, my peripheral vision made the photo appear to be something it most certainly isn’t.

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