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EETE DEC 2013

Touch-interactive posters use conductive ink and Bluetooth to run smartphone apps By Julien Happich Cambridge start up Nova lia has demonstrated printed conductive ink on paper to implement circuit tracks and touchpatterns connected to a wafer-thin Bluetooth low energy chip embedded into cardboard. Together, these components allow new massmarket applications such as interactive posters and books or personalized greetings cards that can connect to a smartphone wirelessly and run entertainment or control apps. Using the nRF51822 system-on-chip from Nordic Semiconductor and any Bluetooth v4.0 enabled smartphone or gadget, the printed posters require very little manual assembly or wiring. Novalia has demonstrated a Bluetoothconnected printed keyboard, 10 times thinner than any other similar device on the market, which can be printed at 100 meters-per-minute on a standard print press. The fully-functioning QWERTY keyboard is printed with conductive ink on a regular sheet of A4-sized photo paper that weighs just 30g (not including batteries). A 120x25mm control module with two CR2016 watch batteries and electronics housing, only 2mm deep, is embedded into the supporting cardboard, while the actual keyboard area could be as thin as 50-microns. The QWERTY keyboard keys are printed on regular paper layered upon a 20x8, X-Y touch matrix substrate printed on the photo paper that can be re-configured in software to represent any language or indeed other user or developer-assigned functionality. The Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822’s onboard 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 based processor manages the capacitive touch side of the application, while the SoC’s ultra-low power performance supports a battery life of up to 18-months (9-months for a single CR2032). A simpler version of this keyboard has already been developed by Novalia. Called ‘Switchboard’, it comprises eight capacitive touch buttons printed onto a piece of A5-sized printed paper mounted on foam card that can be configured to control (or be controlled by) apps running on any Bluetooth v4.0 enabled iOS device. The company has also demonstrated a drum poster comprising a printed image of a drum kit that allows users to play the drums either standalone or wirelessly through a Bluetooth v4.0 enabled iPhone or iPad by simply touching the individual drum or cymbal pictured. Developers Kits are available from Novalia which is actively inviting and partnering with interested companies to begin developing ground-breaking applications based on its patented technology. Wearable textile battery can be recharged by lightweight solar cells By Paul Buckley A research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a technology for textilebased foldable batteries which are rechargeable using energy recharged via integration with lightweight solar cells. Key to the researchers’ approach was a polyester yarn coated with nickel and polyurethane to form the battery’s current collector, binder and separators. The performance of the batteries is said to be comparable with that of conventional foil-based cells, even under severe folding/unfolding conditions. The research group of professors Jang-Wook Choi & Jung- Yong Lee from the Graduate School of EEWS and Taek-Soo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST which developed the technology is now looking to make the batteries softer and more wearable. Trial versions of flexible and wearable electronics are being developed and introduced in the market such as Galaxy Gear, Apple’s i-Watch, and Google Glass. The new technology is expected to be applied to the development of wearable computers as well as winter outdoor clothing since it is flexible and light. The research group expects that the new technology can be applied to current battery production lines without additional investment. Professor Choi said: “It can be used as a core-source technology in the rechargeable battery industry in the future. Various wearable mobile electronic products can be developed through cooperation and collaboration within the industry.” 14 Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE DEC 2013
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