Scientists in Korea have developed flexible and waterproof sensors that could potentially unlock new applications for wearable electronics. Published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, the study shows how the pressure sensor can control a phone, to take photos and play music, even when the sensor is fully immersed in water.
The technology could transform the use of wearable electronics in healthcare, smart textiles and for specific applications including scuba diving equipment, say the study researchers, who are based at Soongsil University in Seoul.
"Flexible electronics will usher in a whole new world of wearable technologies to monitor our health and lifestyles," says Jooyong Kim, a materials scientist who led the research. "But until now, many of these applications have been held back because the pressure sensors they rely on could not handle being exposed to water. We have changed that."
To demonstrate the power of the new technology, the researchers incorporated one of the sensors into a flexible face mask. Sensitive enough to detect the movement of air inside the mask, the sensor could track and report the rate of breathing of a wearer in real-time.