Researchers develop 3D printed objects that can track and store how they are used

ScienceDaily | 10/10/2018 | Staff
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But these plastic parts don't have electronics, which means they can't monitor how patients are using them.

Now engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3-D printed devices that can track and store their own use -- without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna.

Technology - Printing - Way - People - Co-author

"We're interested in making accessible assistive technology with 3-D printing, but we have no easy way to know how people are using it," said co-author Jennifer Mankoff, a professor in the UW's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "Could we come up with a circuitless solution that could be printed on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf printers and allow the device itself to collect information? That's what we showed was possible in this paper."

The UW team will present its findings Oct. 15 at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Berlin.

Team - Objects - Wi-Fi - Electronics - Devices

Previously the team developed the first 3-D printed objects that connect to Wi-Fi without electronics. These purely plastic devices can measure if a detergent bottle is running low and then automatically order more online.

"Using plastic for these applications means you don't have to worry about batteries running out or your device getting wet. That can transform the way we think of computing," said senior author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Allen School. "But if we really want to transform 3-D printed objects into smart objects, we need mechanisms to monitor and store data."

Researchers - Monitoring - Problem - Study - System

The researchers tackled the monitoring problem first. In their previous study, their system tracks movement in one direction, which works well for monitoring laundry detergent levels or measuring wind or water speed. But now they needed to make objects that could monitor bidirectional motion like...
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