Five Star Journal
Chemical engineers in the University of Pittsburgh have created a working concept of a gel-like material that can be used as a “computer”. This gel has the capabilities of detecting movement that can generate electrical voltage. Using this method, they can be transferred through other units of this material that brings scientists closer to computers that we can “wear” and interact with. Scientists are trying to move away from large rigid electronics and move towards a softer more flexible material that can track our heart rates, log miles, or even gauge changes in our behavior. While being part of the material itself.
For now, scientists want to use this material for medical purposes such as making a shoe to detect whether the user’s walking has changed which could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s (Yes that is a thing). There have also been ideas of using the gel as a skin for a robotic arm or similar object. This “skin” will be able to sense different patterns of touch and can be one step closer to letting a computer “feel” objects.
The material’s oscillations (mechanical movement) generate a voltage that, when wired to other units, can allow them to communicate and create networks called “Oscillator-based computers”. Scientists created three networks and encoded patterns on a screen representing pixilated numbers of one, two and three and assigned different units of voltage (+1 or -1). They then moved the cloth units in patterns to issue a command. Say, distort the number one. The networks would gradually synchronize their oscillation movement and produce the distorted number one on the screen. Using these methods of assigning certain units to different voltages, the system operate more like a human brain rather than usual computers. We will have clothing that will tell the wearer if they have swelling from an injury or are having a fever.
With the rate this technology is advancing, one day we may have our clothes change color depending on our mood. Will we be unable to hide our emotions in the near future? Will this technology also show other personal information we are unaware of that are giving off? Will our future have less individual personality than we do now? Whatever happens, our lives will be very different soon.