Innovation: Electronics That Can Bend
Bending the rules
Imagine a shirt that could monitor your heart rate without wires or clunky devices. MC10, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is developing flexible, high-performance electronics that could make that possible. Instead of using rigid circuit boards, MC10 joins components such as microchips and electrodes with springy connectors made of gold wire. Then it embeds the devices in stretchy material, such as silicone rubber or spandex. The technology can be used, for example, to place a device in a spandex shirt and monitor an athlete's heart rate during physical activity. MC10 has received an $850,000 grant from the U.S. Navy to create flexible solar modules for tents and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as a shared $1.7 million grant from the Department of Energy to develop flexible thermoelectric devices.
This silicone device, which is 2.5 inches wide, 2 inches long, and .03 inches thick, contains gold connectors and gold electrodes that collect electrical signals from the body.
MC10 is working with Reebok on a line of smart athletic apparel that is scheduled to hit stores by early 2012.