Interesting New Material … Electronic Skin

I read this awesome article over on the IEEE Spectrum web site about a new pressure-sensitive membrane that was announced by researchers at the Seoul National University’s Multiscale Biomimetic Systems Laboratory. 

This new material is cheap compared to current systems.  The small size and use of platinum in the membrane’s manufacture means that ‘cheap’ is a relative term, but think about the potential uses for something like this in apparel – it’s so sensitive it registers the slightest touch – whether from rain, wind, or a physical touch from an animal or insect.  Applied to performance wear, it has the ability to sense surrounding weather conditions and register changes of the environment…and hooked up to other wearable devices, make changes in a garment.

Can you imagine a brand patch made of this membrane that registers the presence of water droplets, and can then instigate changes in other materials in the outer performance shell such as to increase its impermeability to water?

I love how the membrane itself is ‘created’ by naturally occurring physics, e.g., the sheets of cilia are held together by Van der Waals attraction. I have to confess my technical designer mind really goes into high gear thinking about how this membrane could be put to work and how a garment could be built using this material to help make an even higher performing performance garment!