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ECS scientists in top 10 for international awards
Sep '17
Courtesy: University of Southampton
Courtesy: University of Southampton
Researchers from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton have been shortlisted in the top 10 entries for this summer’s Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition and Merck Displaying Futures Award for their work on printed smart textiles that is linked to University spinout company Smart Fabric Inks.

The research of Dr. Kai Yang, Dr. Russel Torah, Dr. John Tudor and Professor Steve Beeby has been funded large Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and EU projects such as MICROFLEX, SPHERE and CREATIF.

The Southampton researchers have developed a range of inks compatible with fabrics that can light up, heat up, change colour, transmit data, respond to touch and measure bio-potentials on the body, detect movement and harvest energy. Each of these different inks can be combined to form sensor systems on fabric for applications such as fashion, automotive, medical, military, advertising, furnishings and gaming.

The annual Emerging Technologies competition is targeted at SMEs and entrepreneurial academics from the UK and EU, offering up to £10,000 and mentoring support from business sponsors. Although the Southampton team missed out on the top prize this time, researchers were awarded expertise from a patent attorney who discussed the potential pathways for IP protection and licensing opportunities for the technology.

Torah, Wei, Yang, Tudor and Beeby were also successful in reaching the final of the Displaying Futures Award from science and technology company Merck this summer.

The international competition, which received 69 applicants from 22 countries, offered prizes worth a total of $150,000 for entrepreneurs proposing flexible applications in the field of hybrid electronics.

Southampton’s entry was based on group research covering printed bio-potential monitoring electrodes for use on fabric, developed during their EU project Bravehealth and Medical Research Council project SmartMove. The technology uses smart textile medical devices to monitor bio-potential signals such as ECG for the heart, EEG for the brain and EMG for muscles, to monitor the health and activity of patients. Since this technique monitors the body via garments worn by the subject, it allows activities to be observed over a longer period than time in hospital and helps clinicians obtain a more accurate diagnosis of healthcare problems.

Torah and Wei joined a week-long boot camp at the Merck Headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, for the competition final and delivered a seven-minute Dragons’ Den-style pitch with a question and answer session for the judges and audience.

“It has given us a great opportunity to showcase our work to future investors to ensure this research has a lasting impact,” Russel says. “We believe printed smart fabrics are the next stage in the printed electronics evolution and our pioneering work at Southampton is being recognised in these highly competitive competitions.” (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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