Wearable technology seeks new materials to enhance functionalities: Page 2 of 2

July 08, 2019 //By Antonios Oikonomou
Created in 1780, the world’s first pedometer was developed using an earlier mechanism of a self-winding watch. Technology to ensure we meet those all-important 10,000 steps has come a long way since then, but the wearable technology market for health and fitness is constantly looking for new materials, to continue development and innovation.

As a smaller device, it would be easy to assume it is less powerful than its wrist-based predecessors. However, by using optical sensors exploiting graphene, the transdermal fitness patch surpasses the current limitations of existing fitness trackers, with improved accuracy. This is thanks to a combination of optoelectronic and mechanical properties.

Gait analysis, another area of fitness which is already using wearable technology, is also being improved with the integration of graphene. Pressure sensing insoles are not a new phenomenon. However, lightweight graphene-embedded foam could allow for these to be integrated into any type of shoe. This was demonstrated by a prototype developed by Graphene Flagship researchers at the University of Cambridge, and showcased with an interactive prototype at the 2019 Mobile Word Congress, whereby users could control a snowboarding avatar on a screen.

Giving runners greater freedom to use these insoles during personal training, thanks to ease of adding or removing insoles from shoes, this technology could allow for better insight into running techniques. For sportspeople and athletes, this would allow continuous monitoring of any biomechanical abnormalities in their gait cycle, helping to improve technique and avoid injury.

We have come a long way since the early examples of pedometers for counting steps. Wearables for the health and fitness market are in high demand. However, in order to improve their performance and capabilities, product designers must begin experimenting with new advanced materials, such as graphene and related materials.


About the author:

Antonios Oikonomou is Business Developer for Wearables and Optoelectronics at the Graphene Flagship - https://graphene-flagship.eu

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