World’s lightest and thinnest circuits pave the way for ‘imperceptible electronics’
Scientists are reporting development of the first self-powered nano-device that can transmit data wirelessly over long distances. In a study in ACS‘s journal Nano Letters, they say it proves the feasibility of a futuristic genre of tiny implantable medical sensors, airborne and stationary surveillance cameras and sensors, wearable personal electronics, and other devices that operate independently without batteries on energy collected from the environment. Zhong Lin Wang and colleagues explain that advances in electronics have opened the door to developing tiny devices that operate battery-free on minute amounts of electricity that can be harvested from the pulse of a blood vessel, a gentle breeze, or the motions of a person walking. “It is entirely possible to drive the devices by scavenging energy from sources in the environment such as gentle airflow, vibration, sonic wave, solar, chemical, and/or thermal energy,” the scientists explain.
The device consists of a nanogenerator that produces electricity from mechanical vibration/triggering, a capacitor to store the energy, and electronics that include a sensor and a radio transmitter similar to those in Bluetooth mobile phone headsets. Their device transmitted wireless signals that could be detected by an ordinary commercial radio at distances of more than 30 feet.
Source: American Chemical Society
This nine-axis motion sensor comprises three-axis acceleration, angular velocity, and earth’s magnetic field sensors. Up to 28 IMU-Zs can be connected using Bluetooth or CAN. By attaching several sensors to the human body, they can be used for detailed measurement of movement, or R&D on user interfaces.
“The e-nuvo IMU-Z features an SDK, enabling users to develop their own applications. The basic package, which includes one sensor and the development environment, is priced below 300,000 yen. An academic package is also available, and that costs less than 200,000 yen.”
This product is a commercial version of part of the Human Measurement Sensor System, from Waseda University‘s Takanishi Lab. It doesn’t require external equipment such as a camera or lighting, and it’s compact and lightweight. So this sensor enables the movement of people and robots to be measured in 3D without hindering motion performance.
At Interaction 2011, a research group including members from Keio University demonstrated TEROOS, a shoulder-mounted avatar for telecommunication.
“With video chat, people can communicate face to face over a long distance. But the problem is that going out or shopping together can prove difficult. With this system, the person who’s going out carries an avatar on their shoulder, so the other person can operate the avatar to look around freely. This can provide an experience just like going shopping or having a date with the other person.”
This robot has a camera, mic, and speaker, and it can move its head through six degrees of freedom. The speaker is directional, so communication between the users is comparable to whispering into the wearer’s ear. And the camera operates within the wearer’s field of view, so the two people can communicate as if they’re always together.
“An advantage of this system is that communication even goes smoothly if you use demonstrative pronouns like “this” or “that”, say for example, “You should get that glass”.”
“You can change the avatar’s expression, so you can communicate all sorts of feelings to people around the wearer.”
“The body has an original design by us, generated by CAD and printed in 3D. We’ve used six commercially available servo-motors, with a microcontroller and amplifier, connected to the body.”
Communication to move the robot is done by sending information to a smartphone, which is then passed to the microcontroller via Bluetooth. Audiovisual communication is done through Skype.
“You can move the face freely, up and down or left and right, from the PC panel using a mouse. And it’s easy to change the expression by clicking icons, so for example, you can open and close the eyes.”
It is worth mentioning that the new invention was created in collaboration with Ducati Energia and theItalian Ministry of the Environment. The bicycle will enter the production phase in 2010.