New custom 3D printed wireless devices don’t need charging
Wearable technology is one of the fastest growing sectors of the wider tech industry, now overtaking the development of smartphones. From basic fitness trackers to virtual and augmented reality headsets, wearables are everywhere.
Engineers at the University of Arizona introduced a new concept of fitting a device directly to a person and using wireless power, wireless power broadcast to allow the device to work 24 hours 24/7, without ever needing to recharge.
Engineers 3D printed a portable, wireless device that doesn’t need to be recharged. This new device is known as a symbiotic device, which offers several advantages.
The portable devices are based on body scans of the wearers and can operate continuously using a combination of wireless energy transfer and compact energy storage.
Engineers used 3D scans of a wearer’s body to 3D print custom-made devices that wrap around various parts of the body. The ability to specialize in sensor placement allows engineers to measure physiological parameters that they might not otherwise be able to.
Tucker Stuart, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering and the article’s first author, said: “If you want something close to continuous body temperature, for example, you would want to place the sensor under the armpit. Or, if you want to measure your bicep strain during the exercise, we can place a sensor in the devices to achieve this. Due to the way we make the device and attach it to the body, we are able to use it to collect data that a traditional wrist-mounted wearable device wouldn’t be able to collect.
As the new portable devices are tailored to the wearer, they are also very sensitive. Scientists tested the device’s ability to monitor parameters, including temperature and blood pressure, as a person jumped, walked on a treadmill, and used a rower.
In the rower test, subjects wore multiple devices, depending on the intensity of the exercise and how the muscles distorted in fine detail. The devices were accurate enough to detect changes in body temperature induced by climbing a single staircase.
The device also does not use adhesive. It is powered by a wireless system with a range of several meters.
The device also includes a small energy storage unit to operate even if the wearer goes out of range of the system, including outside the home.
Philipp Gutruf, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Craig M. Berge Faculty Member at the College of Engineering, said: “These devices are designed to require no interaction with the wearer. It’s as easy as turning on the device. Then you forget about it and it does its job.
- Tucker Stuart et al., Biosymbiotic, Customized, Digitally Manufactured Wireless Devices for Undefined High-Fidelity Biosignals Collection, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abj3269