IIT Guwahati team develops water-repellent material for wearable motion sensors

IIT Guwahati's material will help sensors that can monitor human motions and expressions stay attached. The sensors are sensitive enough to differentiate between smiles and laughs.

IIT Guwahati  team  develops water-repellent material for wearable motion sensors IIT Guwahati researchers develop water repellent material for wearable motion sensors
Tamanna Tamang | Sep 29, 2021 - 4:30 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati researchers have developed a novel water repellent material that can be used for real-time monitoring of human movements. The material developed is flexible, non-stretchable and environment friendly that can detect low strains with high sensitivity.

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Wearable motion sensors are used for physiological monitoring of human movement. These sensors are also used for gait analysis, understanding human and machine interactions and monitoring patients during rehabilitation processes. The motion sensors are typically made of materials that convert the mechanical strain that arises from movement into detectable electrical signals.

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The IIT Guwahati researchers have developed material that is superior to existing strain sensors with respect to both sensitivity and durability.

The research team was led by Uttam Manna, associate professor, department of chemistry, IIT Guwahati and Roy Paily, department of electronics and electrical engineering, IIT Guwahati. The findings of their research have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Materials Horizons. Manna and Roy co-authored the paper with Supriya Das, Rajan Singh, Avijit Das, Sudipta Bag from IIT Guwahati.

Explaining about the product, Manna said, “The strain sensors convert mechanical deformation into electrical signals. Efficiency of conversion of mechanical deformation into electrical signal depends on the material’s gauge factor – the ratio of the relative change in electrical resistance of the material with respect to the mechanical strain. Thus, a high gauge factor would mean greater sensitivity of the sensor.”

“Until now, wearable strain sensors used the stretching function of the material to gauge strain. These sensors were made of polymers or fabrics in which nanoparticles of specialized materials were embedded. The constant stretching that is used to detect motion leads to fatigue and failure of the material over time,” he further added.

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Elaborating further on its use, Manna said: “The ink-patterned paper was connected to an electronic component and a Bluetooth module and attached to various parts of the human body for wireless monitoring of different human motions and expressions. It was attached to the finger to detect bending motion, knee to detect walking and squatting motions and to different parts of the face to detect facial expressions.”

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“The sensor developed is sensitive enough to differentiate smiling from laughing and can also detect swallowing motion. The attachment of the pattern interface to the wrist allows monitoring of the wrist pulse. The extreme water repellence of the material makes it suitable to be used underwater as well,” added Manna.

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