New stretchy wonder material doubles as an actual keyboard

University researchers hope the rubbery mix of sensors could be the next big thing

Tech involving stretchy, rubbery materials is nothing new - take the high-tech rubber that heal itself or the carbon nanotubes that are doubling as artificial muscles as proof of that - but one group of researchers at the University of Auckland are looking to take that take in a far more-key (but no less exciting) direction: malleable keyboards.

According to the researchers' official paper, they've created a, "soft, flexible and stretchable keyboard made from a dielectric elastomer sensor sheet," which makes the most of a, "multi-frequency capacitance sensing technique based on a transmission line model, we demonstrate how this keyboard can detect touch in two dimensions, programmable to increase the number of keys and into different layouts, all without adding any new wires, connections or modifying the hardware."

Sounds pretty complicated right? It's actually based a pretty simple yet innovative set of designs. Inside that square of rubber you'll find two sensors that are set at a 90 degree angle to one another. These two sensors are able to determine which direction a key press is coming from, even if they material is stretch or contorted. Of course, the prototype that's been created is still in its infancy, but it offers an exciting glimpse into the future of flexible keyboards.

[Image credit: Andreas Tairych]

Via: IOP Science

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