Researchers at MIT have developed a new kind of soft robotic fiber that can act as artificial muscles and react to body movements.
The OmniFiber contains a fluid channel in the centre which can be activated by a fluidic system and stretchable sensors that can detect and measure the degree of stretching of the fibers.
The revolutionary “robotic” breath-regulating fiber can be used to manufacture kinetic garments to help patients recover their breathing patterns after illness or surgery.
It can also be used by singers and athletes to control their breathing patterns.
The fiber can bend, stretch, pulse and curl, providing immediate feedback to the wearer.
“The fiber-level engineering and fabric-level design are nicely integrated in this study,” said Lining Yao, an assistant professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, who was not associated with this research.
She said the work demonstrated “different machine knitting techniques, including inlay and active spacer fabric, advanced the state-of-the-art regarding ways of embedding actuating fibers into textiles.
“Integrating strain sensing and feedbacks is essential when we talk about wearable interactions with actuating fabrics,” Ms Yao added.
According to Ozgun Kilic Afsar, one of the researchers involved in this project, the team of researchers from MIT, Uppsala University, and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, will continue to improve the technology.
One of the key goals they intend on achieving is the development of the manufacturing system as they want to be able to produce longer filaments.