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Ubiquitous conformable systems for imperceptible computing

Sara V. Fernandez (Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
David Sadat (Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Farita Tasnim (Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Daniel Acosta (Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Laura Schwendeman (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Shirin Shahsavari (Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Canan Dagdeviren (Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 18 September 2021

Issue publication date: 14 February 2022

202

Abstract

Purpose

Although conformable devices are commonly designed to couple with the human body for personalized and localized medicine, their applications are expanding rapidly. This paper aims to delineate this expansion and predict greater implications in diverse fields.

Design/methodology/approach

Today’s device technologies continue to face fundamental obstacles preventing their seamless integration with target objects to effectively access, evaluate and alter self-specific physical patterns, while still providing physical comfort and enabling continuous data collection. Due to their extreme mechanical compliance, conformable devices permit the query of signals occurring at interfaces so as to decode and encode biological, chemical and mechanical patterns with high resolution, precision and accuracy. These unique and versatile capabilities allow for a marked change in the approach to tackling scientific questions, with the ability to address societal challenges at large.

Findings

Here, this study highlights the current state of these devices in a wide range of fields, such as interactive teaching, textiles, robotics, buildings and infrastructure, agriculture, climate and space, and further forecasts essential features of these devices in the near future.

Originality/value

This study justifies conformable devices’ growing utility through a novel quantitative analysis methodology that indexes peer-reviewed journal articles based on specific keywords, whereby this study tracks keyword frequency over time across specific fields in conjunction with conformability-like topics. The resulting trends’ trajectories provide the foundation for this study’s future projections. This study concludes with a perspective on the possible challenges concomitant with a ubiquitous presence of these technologies, including manufacturing, wireless communication, storage, compression, privacy and sharing of data, environmental sustainability, avoidance of inequality and bias and collaboration between stakeholders at all levels of impact.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This article was written with the contributions of the freshmen advisees of the MIT Media Lab course, MAS.A01: Freshman Seminar on “How to Compose a Scientific Perspective Paper”, taught by Dr Canan Dagdeviren in Fall 2019 and guided by insightful commentaries of our invited speakers. We would like to thank all invited speakers to Dr Canan Dagdeviren’s Decoders course series: Dr John Rogers, Northwestern University, USA; Dr Zhong Lin Wang, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; Dr Takao Someya, The University of Tokyo, Japan; Dr Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia; Dr Michael McAlpine, University of Minnesota, USA; Dr Canan Dagdeviren, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. We would also like to thank Dr W. Craig Carter for helpful feedback and discussions on computational methods. The authors would further like to thank Sophia Chen and Emma Suh for their valuable inputs in editing the manuscript. This work was supported by MIT Media Lab Consortium funding, National Science Foundation under NSF awards no. 2026344, and no. 2044688, and the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.

Citation

Fernandez, S.V., Sadat, D., Tasnim, F., Acosta, D., Schwendeman, L., Shahsavari, S. and Dagdeviren, C. (2022), "Ubiquitous conformable systems for imperceptible computing", Foresight, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 75-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-07-2020-0067

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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