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Stretch the new flex for programmable rubber keyboard

Date:
November 25, 2015
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
Scientists have developed a soft, flexible, stretchable keyboard using a type of rubber known as a dielectric elastomer. The keyboard was made from a single laminated structure with two sensing layers oriented at 90 degrees apart.
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Daniel Xu with 2D sensor.
Credit: Daniel Xu, CC BY SA

Scientists at the University of Auckland have developed a soft, flexible, stretchable keyboard using a type of rubber known as a dielectric elastomer.

The results are reported Nov. 25 2015, in the journal Smart Materials and Structures.

"Imagine a world where you drop something, and it bounces back without any damage" says Daniel Xu, an author of the paper. "That's the benefit of these rubber devices that can flex and stretch."

The keyboard was made from a single laminated structure with two sensing layers oriented at 90 degrees apart. This took advantage of their mechanical coupling while at the same time still provided an electrical separation. A total of nine different positions were distinguished within the sensor keyboard.

"A key benefit of our keyboard is that essentially, it's just a thin sheet of rubber. It can be wrapped around any object which turns it into a keyboard." Continues Xu. "It can also be made into a sensing skin for motion capture, which is useful for athletes, clinicians, and for new interactive gesture controllers."

The researchers often used video games to test the functionality of the keyboard -- and as part of a separate project have made a sensing glove to interface with shooting games.

Work is now taking place with a spin-off company, StretchSense, to develop wearable and other technologies designed to sense stretch.

The researchers at Biomimetics Lab at the University of Auckland seek inspiration from nature to find creative solutions to engineering problems, and are world leaders in soft sensor research, energy harvesters and human powered submarines.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Xu, Andreas Tairych, Iain A Anderson. Stretch not flex: programmable rubber keyboard. Smart Materials and Structures, 2016; 25 (1): 015012 DOI: 10.1088/0964-1726/25/1/015012

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Stretch the new flex for programmable rubber keyboard." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124204328.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2015, November 25). Stretch the new flex for programmable rubber keyboard. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124204328.htm
Institute of Physics. "Stretch the new flex for programmable rubber keyboard." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124204328.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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