THESE 3D-PRINTED SMART DE­VICES DON’T NEED BAT­TER­IES OR ELEC­TRON­ICS

Focus-Science and Technology - - INNOVATIONS -

Re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton have de­vel­oped 3D-printed ob­jects that can trans­mit and store data about their use with­out the need for bat­ter­ies or elec­tron­ics.

The de­vices use a method called ‘backscat­ter’. They have an­ten­nas em­bed­ded in them that re­flect ra­dio sig­nals from some­thing like your home Wi-Fi router. The way the an­ten­nas backscat­ter their sig­nals car­ries in­for­ma­tion about how the ob­ject is be­ing used.

The re­searchers sug­gest these could be used for de­vices like ‘smart’ pill bot­tles, to record when they’re be­ing opened or closed. They could then send in­for­ma­tion to an app to help pa­tients or doc­tors track their use. As the ob­jects are com­pletely made of plas­tic, users wouldn’t need to worry about the ob­jects get­ting wet, los­ing sig­nal or run­ning out of bat­ter­ies.

The team has also cre­ated an in­sulin pen that uses a coiled-up spring to record how many times it’s used when it’s out of range of a Wi-Fi sig­nal. When the user’s back in WiFi range they can re­lease the spring, and data about the pen’s use is sent to a de­vice.

The next step is for the re­searchers to scale down the new tech­nol­ogy so they can be tested in real health­care sit­u­a­tions.

The Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton has de­vel­oped this pill bot­tle and pros­thetic hand that can trans­mit in­for­ma­tion about their use with­out the need for elec­tron­ics

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