3D-Printed Smartwatch Can Be Manufactured At Home

3D-Printed Smartwatch Can Be Manufactured At Home
Fashion & Apparel

The concept watches' components are fabricated from commonly found household items

Rachel Pincus
  • 30 january 2017

Most smartwatches today are considered luxury items rather than must-haves. However, with research and development initiated by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, that could change sometime soon. With a 3D printed case and a cost that electrical engineer Muhammad Mustafa Hussain hopes to reduce by $5 every year, the “paper watch” could be the disruption that smartwatches need to become a widely used technology.

KAUST-Paper-Watch.jpg

Their “watch” contains flexible sensors made from common household materials like aluminum foil and sponges with some help from their hard, silicon-based counterparts. Thus far, it can measure body temperature, sweat levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.

kaust paper watch 3.png

Pressure sensors in the watch were created from foil, double-sided tape, and polypropylene microfiber cleanroom wipes. Another layer of the circuitry is an RFID tag that was made by drawing on a Post-It Note with a silver ink pen and attaching a flexible radio chip. Most importantly, software being developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences would allow these seemingly rudimentary devices to communicate with the smartphones of the future.

The sensors are also tough, surviving a stress test consisting of 300 cycles of bending and unbending, and their measurement accuracy appears to be roughly equivalent to those of more expensive smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear.

As the “paper watch” is developed further, the plan for its marketing will become clearer. The main feature that has yet to be added is actual watch functionality – the ability to tell time. “Of course, ‘paper watch’ is a catch phrase, but adding clock capability is easy and we are on that,” Hussain told IEEE Spectrum.

However, making measurements reliable and accurate is also a top priority for Hussain and his colleagues, as they hope to spin off a company that focuses on health monitors for the elderly population, a group that would require something more precise than the watch’s current 5% margin of error for important medical metrics like blood pressure.

The prototype of the watch currently costs $25 to produce, and that figure is expected to keep decreasing.

KAUST Innovation Muhammad Mustafa Hussain | Joanna Nassar

Most smartwatches today are considered luxury items rather than must-haves. However, with research and development initiated by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, that could change sometime soon. With a 3D printed case and a cost that electrical engineer Muhammad Mustafa Hussain hopes to reduce by $5 every year, the “paper watch” could be the disruption that smartwatches need to become a widely used technology.

+3d printing
+Health
+Saudi Arabia
+sensor
+technology

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