Scientists from the Seoul National University have developed a stretchable, transparent and highly sensitive touchpad that can be used in one’s arms and allow us to write and play video games. While technology keeps moving forward, new devices get people closer to gadgets straight out of a science-fiction movie.

If you think you have seen everything there is in the market for touch panels, this new invention will undoubtedly blow your mind. Researchers from South Korea have created the ultimate touch screen panel that can be stretched and which is highly sensitive for users’ enjoyment. The board is made out of hydrogel and a network of hydrophilic polymers.

The touchpad is made of hydrogel, a network of hydrophilic polymers that are soft and offer its users with more dinamic management. Image Credit: India TV News
The touchpad is made of hydrogel, a network of hydrophilic polymers that are soft and offer its users with more dynamic management. Image Credit: India TV News

“The panel is soft and stretchable, so it can sustain a large deformation,” the journal Science wrote. “The panel can freely transmit light information because the hydrogel is transparent, with 98% transmittance for visible light. A surface-capacitive touch system was adapted to sense a touched position.”

A new era of touch pads

Indeed, we’ve seen movies where there are highly sophisticated touchscreens everywhere even used in human bodies. But scenarios like those described in movies such as Minority Report might be just around the corner. Nonetheless, this new invention might be the beginning of it all. People is used to technology interactive maps, highly sensitive touch-screen phones and so on. However, we might just have transparent and flexible touch panels on our arms, enabling us to write to friends and play our favorite games on it, and even to play the piano.

For the thin flexible ionic touch panel, the researchers from the Seoul National University used a circuit of the hydrogel containing lithium chloride salts which serve as a conductor to retain water. These materials are stretchy unlikely those that used stiff electrodes such as carbon nanotubes and metal nanowires that were used before in touchpads. This new touch panel can be stretched to more than 1,000 percent of its average area.

The lithium chloride salts are useful to retain water in the hydrogel. After 100 cycles resistance, it was found to be increased slightly, meaning that it is possible the presence of water evaporation in the hydrogel according to the scientists.

What is next?

In a few words, to use the panel it has to be installed on our arm. Once the finger touches the panel, a circuit is closed in the hydrogel permitting current to flow from both ends of the strip to the contact point. The scientists have also developed a controller board to ease the communication between the thin flexible touch panel and a computer.

What we can do in the future with this new technology is yet to determine. As human-computer interactions are always increasing, the touchpad might require biocompatibility to integrate fully with the human body. Therefore, all what science fiction showed us might just become real in a blink of an eye.

Source: Daily Mail