Business Today - - THE BREAKOUT ZONE -

WI-FI CAN­NOT BE ev­ery­where, all the time, in spite of at­tempts to en­sure seam­less, al­ways-on con­nec­tiv­ity. Still, there are ob­jects for which con­nec­tiv­ity is espe­cially em­pow­er­ing. A group of re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton have been work­ing on bring­ing con­nec­tiv­ity to 3D-printed ob­jects and giv­ing them phys­i­cal data an­a­lyt­ics ca­pa­bil­i­ties via wire­less mode so that there is no need for con­ven­tional elec­tron­ics.

The re­searchers have adopted a method called backscat­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and sens­ing, and use con­duc­tive plas­tic fil­a­ments. The de­sign de­tects a va­ri­ety of bidi­rec­tional, lin­ear and ro­ta­tional move­ments, and en­ables data cap­ture and stor­age for re­trieval when out­side of wire­less cov­er­age.

The ensem­ble was demon­strated and could de­tect when a pill bot­tle was opened, for ex­am­ple. A per­son us­ing a bot­tle (with the sys­tem fit­ted into it) may not re­mem­ber tak­ing a pill that day, but the data cap­tured can point it out, thus help­ing both users and doc­tors. It has also been used with a pros­thetic limb, the an­gles of which can be de­tected mov­ing, and an in­sulin pen be­ing put to use.

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