Researchers are closer to making wearable smartphones a reality

Forget about losing your phone ever again: the next step in wearable tech could be having electronics integrated into our clothes. (Take that, iWatch.)

After extensive testing, engineers from Stanford University in the US have discovered a thin material that is not only flexible but can be switched on or off, toggling between conductive and non-conductive structures – so our tech could become more flexible and gadgets of the future could be woven into our tops. (Maybe we’ll even be able to recharge them by walking? And we’ll never get lost because we’ll be wearing our GPS. Ah, the future is a magical place.)

Assistant professor Evan Reed and graduate students Karel-Alexander Duerloo and Yao Li say that the material is a crystalline lattice that can form a sheet just three atoms thick. Computer simulations show that its atoms can be repeatedly manipulated between a structure that conducts electricity and one that doesn’t. ‘Think of it like flicking a light switch on and off,’ said Reed, lead author of the study, which was published in Nature Communications. The material is formed when one atomic layer of molybdenum atoms gets sandwiched between two atomic layers of tellurium atoms. (You know how it is.)

The downside? It’s all just theory at this point: the material only exists as a computer simulation. But now the science is in place to prove it’s theoretically possible, the engineers hope that an experimental scientist with the right mix of tech and fashion sense will make it a reality.

Image via Tom Held’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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