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LED Displays Get Wearable

PORTLAND, Ore.—As the craving for wearable electronics grows, laboratories around the world have been seeking to integrate fabric–the raw material of fashion—and electronic displays. Various researchers have demonstrated fabrics that change color, but Imec (formerly the Inter-university Micro Electronics Centre, Leuven, Belgium) today claims it is the first to integrated light-emitting-diodes (LEDs) into a flexible, wearable fabric that serves as both a sensor and a display.

Imec built the wearable fabric display in cooperation with its partners: Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO, or in English the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, The Hague, Netherlands) a nonprofit research center, the Centre for Microsystems Technology (CMST) an Imec associated laboratory at the University of Ghent (Kortrijk, Belgium) and the Holst Centre (Flanders, Belgium) a partnership between industry and academia set up by Imec and TNO.

The stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor-driven LED display here laminated into textiles developed by Holst Centre, Imec and CSMT.
(Source: Imec)

The stretchable and conformable thin-film transistor-driven LED display here laminated into textiles developed by Holst Centre, Imec and CSMT.
(Source: Imec)

As seen in the photo, the flexible fabric is both stretchable and conformable to the body of the wearer. Laminated into the fabric are thin-film transistor (TFT) driven light emitting diodes (LEDs) on a tough polyamide substrate encapsulated into soft rubber. The fabric is both comfortable to wear, as well as washable using normal machines set, no doubt, on delicate (although no commercial clothing has yet to be made from the prototype material).

Since the research centers cooperative activities include potable medical devices, the fabric could be linked to sensors to accurately read-out health parameters that vary over the body of the wearer, such as temperature, oxygen levels, circulation, activity levels and more, providing real-time feedback—for the users themselves or for healthcare providers, according to Imec.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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