You’ve heard of wearables but what about everywhereables…?
May 26, 2015
Recently I was invited to give a keynote at the Printed Electronics Europe in Berlin, an important, well-attended industry conference with a high proportion of attendees being technology users and developers from major companies.
Whilst working with the team preparing our presentation about the immense potential of flexible electronics when combined with textiles, we got into a discussion about whether ‘wearables’ enabled by flexible technology should just refer to on-body equipment and gadgets, or whether the term could also be used to describe electronics on surfaces. That’s the beauty of flexible electronics, you see; all of a sudden you have the potential to quite literally wrap electronics around surfaces of all different shapes and sizes – from a delicate wrist, to a broad car dashboard – and bring them to life. This technology enables product designers to mould and layer electronics anywhere and everywhere.
But if electronics are not being worn by a person, do they count as ‘wearables’? Well, we couldn’t reach a consensus and time was pressing on, but then someone said, “perhaps these are everywhere-ables’”. Most people have heard the term ‘wearables’ but probably not the term ‘everywhere-ables’. Indeed, a quick look on Google did inform us that we weren’t the first people to have coined the phrase and yet no singular definition existed.
The meaning in my presentation and the significance we at FlexEnable give to the term is in the context of wearables for our environment; covering surfaces with electronics and making them come to life by being able to sense things, be smarter and be able to display moving and static images.
So if the notion of ‘everywhere-ables’ is wearables for our environment, flexible electronics provides a path to ‘clothing’ our environment such that our walls, furniture, cars, shops and much more all become smarter and part of the electronics world.
Once you can make electronics circuits on plastic and be able to robustly curve, bend and shape that plastic onto any surface, you can bring your environment to life: Truly flexible electronics for wearables and everywhere-ables.