I've decided to make life more difficult for myself and add a monthly feature to my blog that will be vaguely related to future technology / predictions / cool technology of the month - type thing.
This month I thought i'd focus on Printed Electronics... (Photo courtesy of Thin Film Electronics listed below)
It seems everyone is predicting massive increases in printed electronics and the potential affect on various everyday products are huge. Being able to print electronics will eventually change almost everything but current research seems to be focusing on:
Displays / screens
Think mobile phones, laptops and TVs. The latest idea I just came across being wallpaper TVs (for when flatscreen just isn't flat enough)
Leading on from that you can obviously see the connection with lighting. I have already heard of examples of lights without bulbs, i.e. the lighting electronics are printed into the lampshade, apparently they're not very bright yet but that's just a matter of time.
The first OLED lamp has been prototyped already:
Everyone's looking into batteries but i've come across quite a few articles about reserch MIT is doing around this area - it doesn't take a genius to realise the commercial opportunities are huge and that as devices get smaller and better batteries need to too.
MIT's most recent press release regarding battery research:
Note: "The prototype is packaged as a typical coin cell battery, but the technology allows for the assembly of very lightweight, flexible and conformable batteries that can take the shape of their container."
Memory / storage (rfid)
An example here could be printed security tags that contain information in the memory contained within the label and can be printed onto any surface, as described by Thin Film Electronics based in Sweden:
Another example would be interactive scratchcards that have several goes (the card can be wiped so several 'scratches' are included on one card).
So then I decided to brainstorm it myself and came up with the following product ideas:
Leaflet laptops taking netbooks to the extreme!
Bathroom cabinet organisers (online diary on half the mirror so you can see what you've got that day while brushing your teeth!)
Instant messaging business cards (message a person instantly through their business card)
Re-ordering through labels (i.e. you need a new hoover bag so you press an area on the label on the bag and you've automatically ordered a new bag, just like that)
Menus in fast food outlets that submit your order electronically
Printed runway lighting at airports, maybe even lighting that's contained within paint in the distance future!
Some of these, maybe all of these, have probably already been thought of but I thought it demonstrates the many, many applications that this will bring into our lives.
If anyone out there is seriously interested in printed electronics in Yorkshire just drop me a line as it's something we're working on through the Northern Way partnership.