Printed Electronics USA 2014: Sensors for wearables and IoT showcased

Paul Boughton

At the 2014 Printed Electronics USA, attendees will learn about disruptive sensor technologies that will enable new applications for wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Taking place between the 19th-20th November in Santa Clara, CA, it is the world's largest event on printed, organic and flexible electronics.

Following the successful format of previous years, the event will run alongside other co-located eventsgiving an opportunity for end users to see the latest emerging technologies. The IoT and Wearable Technology will be two major applications highlighted in the programme.

"For the Internet of Things to deliver on its promises, it will be necessary to develop new sensors that give more accurate and more meaningful data,” said Dr Guillaume Chansin, Technology Analyst at IDTechEx. "Printed electronics is a fundamentally different way to manufacture hardware, including new types of sensors for the IoT."

Several companies exhibiting at the show have already products and solutions designed for the IoT. In particular, attendees will be able to see printed temperature and gas sensors, as well as printed photodetectors that can give vision to surfaces.

Wearable devices will also greatly benefit from printed sensor technologies. For example, Electrozyme is a start-up company developing printed wearable biosensors for application in sports, fitness, wellness, and healthcare.

Joshua Windmiller, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Electrozyme believes that innovation in sensor technology will be the deciding factor for the success of wearables: "Innovation is stagnating in the wearable devices domain. New wearable device emerge on a daily basis, nearly all of which feature the same sensing capabilities - heart rate, motion, skin conductivity and the like. It is for this reason that one of the unspoken maladies in the wearable technology field is the lack of customer engagement several months following their wearable device purchase. In essence, such devices are thrown into the sock drawer following periods of inactivity never to be used again. This fate would never confront a user's smartphone.

"Printed electronics will serve as an enabling technology that will fuel the development of the next generation of wearable devices and allow product developers to realise wearable designs that have widespread appeal."

Speaking at the conference, Dr Windmiller will present skin-applied biosensors for metabolite and electrolyte quantification as well as epidermal biofuel cells able to continuously scavenge useful levels of power from the perspiration. "Particular emphasis will be placed on low-cost, high-throughput methods leveraged to fabricate such devices as well as the challenges that confront the emergent field of epidermal biosensors going forward",  he added.

Recent Issues