This is one of the neatest new technologies I’ve read about all week. We all know how cool it would be to have a robot. Imagine being able to turn anything into a robot at a moment’s notice by wrapping robotic fabric around it. Of course, there are much more practical, life-changing applications for this new tech, but I still want to build a robot.
When I think about wearable tech, I’ve always thought of it as being in the form of a smart gadget or device of some sort. It never occurred to me that our clothes themselves could be a form of wearable tech.
This high tech fabric was developed by Rebecca Kramer and her team in the Mechanical Engineering department at Purdue University. It is bendable, twistable, contractible and as comfortable and movable as any other fabric we wear.
Rebecca and her team created this robotic fabric to be much different than the electronic fabrics made in the past. If you’ve read articles about this type of fabric before, you’ve probably noticed in the pictures that it’s stiff and looks uncomfortable.
However, this new robotic fabric is made using cotton. It was specifically designed to be used in active everyday life. According to ecouterre:
Made from cotton, the electronic textile is woven with sensors made of a flexible polymer and threadlike strands of a shape-memory alloy. When heated, the alloy returns to a coiled shape, thus contracting and causing the fabric to move. Together, the sensors and shape-memory alloy can bend, twist or contract the fabric and depending on the orientation and setup can create motion.
You may be wondering what the applications are for this type of fabric. As it turns out, there are many. Just to name a few, it could be used in sports and in the military. It could assist disabled people who need help moving. NASA is even exploring using it in their spacesuits.
It’s all so impressive to me, but I keep going back to what I originally said. I think it would be neat to wrap this fabric around just about anything in order to bring it to life. I’ve always wanted my own robot.
If you’d like to read more about the nitty-gritty details surrounding this inspiring tech, just click on the Purdue University link below.