Wi-Fi cannot be everywhere, all the time, in spite of attempts to ensure seamless, always-on connectivity. Still, there are objects for which connectivity is especially empowering. A group of researchers at the University of Washington have been working on bringing connectivity to 3D-printed objects and giving them physical data analytics capabilities via wireless mode so that there is no need for conventional electronics.
The researchers have adopted a method called backscatter communication and sensing, and use conductive plastic filaments. The design detects a variety of bidirectional, linear and rotational movements, and enables data capture and storage for retrieval when outside of wireless coverage.
The ensemble was demonstrated and could detect when a pill bottle was opened, for example. A person using a bottle (with the system fitted into it) may not remember taking a pill that day, but the data captured can point it out, thus helping both users and doctors. It has also been used with a prosthetic limb, the angles of which can be detected moving, and an insulin pen being put to use.
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