Wearable Technology and Flexible Circuits


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In 2012, Google introduced Google Glass, which essentially extended the functionality of a hand-held smart phone to a pair of eye glasses. It was the next step in seamlessly integrating information technology with our personal lives. With Google Glass, one can walk down a street with total awareness of the environment while viewing emails, getting weather reports or searching for the nearest restaurant. The invention of Google Glass was the kickoff to perhaps the next explosion in products called wearable technology.  

Wearable technology is not exactly new; sophisticated hearing aids, bio-feedback devices, insulin pumps, blue tooth technology, and other wearable products have been around for decades. What is different today is that the electronics are smaller, faster, smarter, lighter and less expensive, all of which allows easy expansion to more applications.

Wearable technology may be the logical extension of the advancements in mobile technology, which is currently taking the form of glasses, watches, rings, wristbands and ear inserts. It is starting to move into clothing such as gloves, socks and even shirts.   

Ideally, wearable technology enables us to use sophisticated information devices in a “hands free” mode, allowing us to operate more efficiently and safely. But it is much more than just “hands free”; it also enables more efficient monitoring and tracking. Applications for this technology now include law enforcement, medical, bio-technology, consumer, home automation, health and fitness, and military.   New products and applications for wearable technology are being announced almost daily.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine.

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