While its rival is still obsessing over bendable and foldable mobile devices, LG is working on something somewhat more traditional but still groundbreaking. Its Innotek “cutting edge materials” manufacturing arm has unveiled a new type of textile that can sense pressure across its whole surface. And since its textile, it can be bended and folded in any which way, making it a suitable material for clothing and accessories for use in medical, health, and even automotive industries.
Last year, Google turned its gaze towards the intersection of technology and textile when it unveiled at I/O 2015 what would be called its Project Jacquard. LG Innotek’s innovation isn’t exactly as ambitious as Google’s, the latter envisioning ultimately weaving more electronics into fabric. LG’s yet to be named technology, instead, focuses on perfecting a single feature: sensing pressure.
Most pressure sensing devices today, at the very least, are solid, unbending, and uncomfortable. Those properties severely limit the applications of pressure sensing technology to equally solid and unyielding objects. In contrast, LG’s material is made from a special polyurethane material that lends itself well to being deformed. But in addition to that, the pressure sensitivity isn’t simply limited to one area but is spread across the entire surface, turning the whole material into one large, or small, sensor.
LG says that this makes the textile pressure sensor suitable for a wide variety of applications and gives the following examples:
• Health – pressure sensitive carpets for detecting body balance
• Sports – gloves that can determine the player’s grip
• Automotive – seat covers that can detect the passenger’s posture and body type and adjust automatically.
Whether it can be used for mobile applications, LG isn’t saying, though it’s not hard to imagine accessories like cases or covers possibly taking advantage of pressure-based gestures to control a smartphone or tablet.