Nex­tFlex to cre­ate flex­i­ble cir­cuit sys­tem

OpenSource For You - - Fossbytes -

Set­ting the stage for smart tech­nolo­gies cater­ing to the In­ter­net of Things (IoT) and sen­sor ap­pli­ca­tions like wear­able de­vices, a US Air Force Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ryled project is work­ing with Nex­tFlex. The com­bined ef­forts have re­sulted in the func­tional sam­ples of flex­i­ble Ar­duino cir­cuit board sys­tems made by us­ing a flex­i­ble hy­brid elec­tron­ics (FHE) man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Light­weight, low-cost and flex­i­ble elec­tronic sys­tems are the key to next-gen­er­a­tion smart tech­nolo­gies for mil­i­tary as well as other com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions.

And the pos­si­bil­i­ties for FHE tech­nol­ogy are vir­tu­ally limitless. “Prov­ing the man­u­fac­tura­bil­ity of this tech­nol­ogy through an open source plat­form will ex­pand FHE’s reach even fur­ther by pro­vid­ing every­one — from in­dus­trial

prod­uct de­vel­op­ers to high school stu­dents—the op­por­tu­nity to in­no­vate on new elec­tron­ics con­cepts,” said Dr Ben­jamin Leever, the AFRL Ad­vanced De­vel­op­ment Team leader and Nex­tFlex Gov­ern­ment CTO.

Ar­duinos are mi­cro­con­trollers, or in­te­grated cir­cuits, that are pro­gram­mable through open source soft­ware. They can be used by any­one to quickly prototype an elec­tronic de­vice.

The flex­i­ble Ar­duino cir­cuit board can en­able rapid in­no­va­tion in flex­i­ble and wear­able de­vices for ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing mon­i­tor­ing a per­son’s hy­dra­tion sta­tus, glu­cose lev­els, heart rate and more. In the process of de­vel­op­ing the flex­i­ble hy­brid de­vice, the Nex­tFlex team re­duced the num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ing process steps by more than 60 per cent and the weight of the cir­cuit by 98 per cent, ul­ti­mately in­creas­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties for de­sign ap­pli­ca­tions. The high per­for­mance of a tra­di­tional mi­cro­con­troller cir­cuit is main­tained through this com­bi­na­tion of sur­face­mounted and printed fea­tures.

Lever­ag­ing on the open source com­mu­nity built around Ar­duino helped the US Air Force accelerate in­no­va­tion, en­abling new tech­nolo­gies with tremen­dous po­ten­tial. The Nex­tFlex in­sti­tute played a key role in this in­no­va­tion process, and acted as a valu­able as­set for the US De­part­ment of De­fense and the in­dus­try.

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