Skin-like computers could be the future of wearables
Wearable technology is shaping up to be the next chapter of computing, and a recent report by the New York Times points out that skin-like attachable computers could potentially be where it is heading.
With technology giants getting more creative about where consumers could potentially place their wearable devices, we are seeing innovations each day on fashion-centred smartwatches and smartwear, with clothing and accessories believed to be the perfect place to integrate technology.
However, a new slew of start-ups believe that humans could eventually turn the part of their body where the technology will reside into actual computers, and have much passion for an emerging type of wearable computers which glues to the skin like temporary tattoos.
One company testing the attachable computers is MC10, based in Cambridge Ma. The new wearable technology is the size of a postage stamp and is stretchable, bendable and supposedly incredibly thin. Besides the ability to blend into skin, these computers can also be given bold and unique designs made to stand out like a tattoo or accessory.
The micro-computer can include wireless antennas, temperature and heart-rate sensors and a tiny battery. We have seen similar but much simplified design previously from VivaInk, who produced a Digital Tattoo which can unlock the Moto X smartphone. Miniature sensors have also been widely explored in medical technology such as Google’s ‘smart lens’.
Enthusiasts believes that these attachable computers will be less expensive to make whilst providing greater accuracy since the sensors will be closer or even inside a person’s body. Users are also less likely to forget to put on their wearables, with the chief executive of MC10 Scott Pomerantz saying: “Our devices are not like wearables that are used today, where people wear them for a little bit and then throw them into a drawer.”
“Ours is always on you. We have the smallest, most flexible, stretchable, wearable computer, and you can collect all sorts of biometric data tied to your motion,” he adds. The company has imagined many potential applications for the technology, whether it’s used to detect micro-level reading during exercise, or getting product recommendations using personal data. It could also be used to monitor infant where alerts will be sent to your smartphone if there are any abnormalities, showing the extensive health applications the gadget could provide.
Maybe one day digital skins could offer such a variety of applications, it could eventually replace computers and smartphones. The enormous potential of the technology is exciting, and should definitely not be dismissed or looked over.