As the real-world shifts to the metaverse, inexpensive and ubiquitous sensing will become a must-have. Somalytics and its paper carbon nanotube capacitive sensor may be a solution that serves both the real and virtual worlds.
Mixing carbon nanotubes with cellulose together with a fracturing process, Somalytics has figured out how to make 1-millimeter thick paper that can be used for applications as varied from eye-tracking to touchless interfaces to low-cost health monitoring.
In the above interview, Somalytics CEO Barbara Barclay describes the technology, some of the applications, and how they are ready to ramp up production to volume levels in 2022.
- 00:36 – Barclay explains the process they use for baking carbon nanotubes into a one-millimeter thick paper.
- 02:46 – There are numerous applications for the resulting sensing capability, including for use in industrial environments, wearable sensors, or augmented and virtual reality.
- 04:23 – Barclay explains how the paper is protected in polyethylene and can be made small enough that it can be embedded in glasses. The capacitance changes based on the movement of the eyeball, which provides enough of a disturbance to the electrical field to detect where the subject is looking.
- 07:00 – This offers the potential to be a much lower-cost alternative to cameras for eye-tracking. It is not only the sensor itself but the resulting reduction in processing power that adds to the value of Somalytics’ approach.
- 08:52 – Because processing isn’t required, Somalystics’ solution is much more responsive than alternatives. It features low latency of fewer than 3 milliseconds and speeds up to 1,000 Hz.
- 10:07 – Somalytics will sell sensors and co-develop products with its partners. Barclay suggests there are many ways their team can add value, particularly in the area of eye-tracking.
- 12:04 – Other applications include touchless interfaces, such as elevators, soap dispensers.
- 15:09 – The sensors provide an analog feel that allows new applications. Barclay points out that it can be used for applications, such as mats that would detect a person’s gate. This has the potential to infer conditions like Parkinson’s Disease. The sensors could potentially be embedded in shoes or insoles.
- 16:50 – Another application is sleep monitoring via a low-cost mask.
- 19:05 – Barclay envisions low-cost glasses that every school could use to measure concussions for student-athletes.
- 20:38 – Another application is integration into low-cost wearables, such as bandages, that might measure things such as heart rate. These disposable sensors could provide doctors with data from post-hospital stays that would otherwise be extremely costly.
- 22:55 – Somalytics is ready to ramp manufacturing to produce millions of products.
- 24:33 – The basic technology comes from the University of Washington. The IP Group is the funding source.