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Wear Your Computer on Your Sleeve

Posted on: 10/31/2013
Two University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) researchers are working on a computational “fabric” that would sense and respond to external stimuli. Potential uses of the technology could include the development of clothing that monitors a hospital patient’s vital signs, or enables the visually impaired to “sense” the surrounding environment.

The research was recently funded by a $700,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. It builds upon the Pitt team’s established research into Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) gel, a substance that oscillates in the absence of external stimuli.

The researchers propose utilizing the chemo-responsive nature of the BZ gels to create a chemical-based computational fabric that would be lightweight, mechanically compliant, and responsive to human touch and motion. The material would perform autonomously for up to several hours without connections to an external power supply.

The five-year grant will allow the researchers to make progress on the computational modeling of how such a BZ gel fabric would function, with the goal that others would be able to fabricate the material.

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