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How SensorTape will bring DIY electronics to the masses

March 10, 2016

What if setting up a network was as easy as placing a piece of tape?

Here at Plant Services, we are always interested in new and innovative ways to use sensors and circuitry to produce better networks. But what if setting up a network was as easy as placing a piece of tape? Researchers at the MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group have done just that with the introduction of SensorTape. This product will put networking into the hands of makers who do not have electronics knowledge or programming skills.

According to the creators of SensorTape: "SensorTape is a modular and dense sensor network in a form factor of a tape. SensorTape is composed of interconnected and programmable sensor nodes on a flexible electronics substrate. Each node can sense its orientation with an inertial measurement unit, allowing deformation self-sensing of the whole tape. Also, nodes sense proximity using time-of-flight infrared. We developed network architecture to automatically determine the location of each sensor node, as SensorTape is cut and rejoined. Also, we made an intuitive graphical interface to program the tape. Our user study suggested that SensorTape enables users with different skill sets to intuitively create and program large sensor network arrays. We developed diverse applications ranging from wearables to home sensing, to show low deployment effort required by the user. We showed how SensorTape could be produced at scale using current technologies and we made a 2.3-meter long prototype."

According to Popular Science: "SensorTape is simple to understand if you think of it as a repeating pattern of circuitry printed onto a roll of tape. There are clear lines printed onto the tape so that you know where it’s safe to make cuts (with basic house scissors) without damaging the circuitry. The directive lines allow for straight or diagonal cuts, so reassembly into new shapes is easier. Unfortunately, reassembling the separated pieces of SensorTape will require either conductive tape to continue the current, or some soldering skills to re-establish the node connections."

Watch SensorTape in action

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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