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Wearable electronic human-machine interfaces (HMIs) are an emerging class of devices to facilitate human and machine interactions. Advances in electronics, materials and mechanical designs have offered pathways toward commercial wearable HMI devices. However, existing devices are uncomfortable since they restrict the human body's motion with slow response times and challenges to realize multiple functions. In a recent report on Science Advances, Kyoseung Sim and an interdisciplinary research team in materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering in the U.S. and China, detailed the development of a novel polymer.
In the work, they engineered a sol-gel-on-polymer-processed indium zinc oxide semiconductor nanomembrane-based ultrathin stretchable electronics device. The advantages included multifunctionality, simple manufacturing processes, imperceptible wearing and robust interfacing. The multifunctional wearable HMI devices ranged from resistive random-access memory (ReRAM) for data storage to form field-effect transistors (FETs) that interfaced with switching circuits. Additional functionalities included sensors for health and body motion sensing, and micro-heaters to deliver temperature. After testing the individual components for their unique properties, Sim et al. engineered the HMI devices as seamless wearables for humans and also as prosthetic skin for robots to offer intelligent feedback and form a closed-loop HMI (human-machine interface) system.
Interfaces - HMIs - Function - Communication - Pathways
Wearable human-machine interfaces (HMIs) function as direct communication pathways between humans and machines. The interfaces can sense physical or electrophysiological parameters from the wearers and facilitate the machines to perform corresponding functions. Recent developments in electronics, materials and mechanical designs have advanced HMI devices. Such wearables are, however, still semisoft and uncomfortable for seamless integration due to inability to deform and adapt to a range of dynamic human movements. Soft electronic materials that perfectly match the requirements of interest offer an alternative to construct the stretchable, wearable HMI devices. However, the soft rubbery materials have featured slow response times to undergo substantial...
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