Researchers develop 3D printed objects that can track and store how they are used
Us without using batteries or electron. Six instead these systems use a method called back scatter through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna previously the team developed the first three D printed objects that connect to WI fi without electron IX, these purely plastic devices can measure if a detergent bottle is running low, and then automatically order more online. The researchers tackled the monitoring problem I in their previous study their system tracks movement in one direction which works well for monitoring sailon dri detergent levels or measuring wind or water speed. But now they needed to make objects that could monitor bidirectional motion like the opening and closing of a pill bottle both of the antennas are identical. So the team had to devise a way to decode which direction the cap was moving the gears teeth have specific sequencing that encodes. A message it's kind of like Morse code. So when you turn the cap in one direction, you see the message going forward, but when you turn the cap in the other direction, you get a reverse message. In addition to tracking for example pill bottle cap movement, the same method could be used to monitor say how people use prosthetics. The researchers also wanted to create a three D printed object that could store its usage information while out of WI fi range for this application. They chose an insulin pen that could monitor its use. And then signal when it was getting low this method requires a mechanical motion like the pressing of a button and stores that information by rolling up a spring inside a ratchet that can only move in one direction each time. Someone pushes the button the spring gets tighter can't unwind Intel the user releases the ratchet, hopefully when it's in range of the back scatter sensor. Then as the spring unwinds. It moves a gear that triggers a switch to contact an antenna repeatedly as the gear turns each contact is counted to determine how many times the user pressed the button. All right. It's kind of complicated. But in another sense, it's fairly simple to these devices. Are only prototypes at the moment to show that it is possible for three D printed materials to sense by directional movement. And then store that data. The next challenge will be to take these concepts and shrink them down. So that they can be embedded in real pill bottles prosthetics and insulin.