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March 12, 2008

Stretching the touchscreen concept

CAMBRIDGE, England – Researchers at the University of Cambridge Nanoscience Centre have been working with the Nokia Research Centre on a form of ‘stretchable electronic skin’ which could enable a new breed of multi-plane, multi-touch interfaces and, potentially, prosthetic skin.

According to the Economist however, the potential doesn’t stop there.

Following on from the recent launch of Morph –  the concept phone that can be bent, folded, stretched and used to sense the world around ‚Äì the story in the latest issue of the Economist focuses on how stretchable electronics isn’t just becoming reality, but could also prove to be very useful. According to the magazine “electronic circuits that stretch like elastic bands or expand like balloons sound not just fanciful, but impractical. Yet a little flexibility could be useful”. Alongside prosthetic skin, the technology could reap a number of benefits, both entertaining and advantageous to the environment.

The collaboration between the University of Cambridge Nanoscience centre and Nokia Research centre focuses on nanoscience and its applications. These include “sensing, energy sources” and interestingly, “structural materials for future ambient intelligence and wearable devices”.

Although Nokia itself has little interest in prosthetic skin, it is very interested in the potential of “multi-plane, multi-touch user interfaces”. Beyond those, nanoscience could also deliver potential energy savings, enhanced power capacity and most importantly the ability to bio-degrade, all of which combine to deliver true environmentally beneficial technologies.

We’ll be catching up with the scientists and engineers from Nokia Research Centre over the coming months to explore this and other future tech topics in more depth.