BeBop Sensors, a company that develops smart fabric sensors, aims to change the world of wearable smart devices and fabrics with its new line of sensor technologies that have been specifically designed to bend and stretch while being worn on the body. The company plans to market the sensors for the next generation of wearable devices, including smart clothing, wearable healthcare devices, prosthetics, and athletic equipment.
“We have a number of new sensors, including carbon fibers and silver or copper wires that offer capacitive resistive, optical solar, and other methodologies to sense and base fabrics such as twill, felt, kevlar, Lycra, and artificial silks,” said Sri Peruvemba, vice president of strategy for BeBop. “Bebop starts with a fabric material that is then coated with proprietary nanomaterials that give it the conducting and sensing abilities. This material is thin, light, flexible, and comfortable, and is cut to pretty much any shape and size. The sensor material is usually attached to a plastic/PET/fabric substrate, and the connection from the sensor material to the drive electronics is usually via conductive inks that are printed onto the substrate.”
So far BeBop has already shipped over two million units into the field across various different industries ranging from healthcare devices to robotics. The company is particularly interested in changing the landscape of wearable fabrics following its latest line of sensor technologies that can remain stable despite any bending or stretching of the material.
“Our sensors can bend, flex, stretch, or twist and continue to perform within spec,” Peruvemba said. “That is precisely why they are chosen. If the application cannot accept a rigid sensor or a sensor that does not have high accuracy, then we are a natural choice. Stability is an essential quality of any sensor, and after numerous lab and field tests, our new flexible fabric sensors are proven stable. They are light, flexible, thin, and very versatile. You can cut them into the shape that you want, and still have a high level of accuracy — and since we mass produce them, we are able to achieve very competitive pricing, not only in medical and industrial applications but in commercial applications as well.”
Peruvemba said the market for wearable sensor technologies has been growing steadily over the past few years. And while many sensor technologies have been traditionally rigid, many modern devices now require more fabric-like, flexible sensor technologies that can stretch and bend to accommodate the contours of the human body. BeBop has already begun shipping out their sensor technologies for a variety of different applications within the medtech realm, including hospital beds and gurneys, wheelchairs, braces, and sports medicine devices that can be used in equipment and protective gear. As the sensors become more ubiquitous, the company expects that they’ll make their way into a variety of devices across the commercial and industrial spectrum.
“We’ve already deployed millions of units, but hopefully you will begin to see these sensors in applications where you might not think you even need a fabric sensor,” Peruvemba said. “Our fabric sensors are being shipped into several medical applications, as well as industrial applications like in the automotive industry including car seats for infants and adults. They’re even being used in electronic musical instruments that are now commercially available for purchase.”
As the company continues to explore various avenues for implementation, the flexible sensor technologies continue to rise to the challenge. Every indication seems to be that the sky truly could be the limit for these new sensors, and it might not be long before your next wearable device is powered by one — and you may not even know it.