LG's tough new sensor brings pressure power to flexible surfaces

LG Innotek reports that the sensor can withstand being sat on 100,000 times(Credit: LG Innotek)

LG Innotek has developed a new pressure sensor that's flexible, durable, and able to withstand extreme temperatures. The company sees the tech finding its way into smart sports gear, being used in injury rehabilitation and even for automatically adjusting car seats.

As the name suggests, LG Innotek is a subsidiary of the company that makes bold smartphones, as well as TVs, robot vacuum cleaners and tech-packed fridges. It deals with developing the latest cutting-edge tech that you'll see crop up in future products, designing and manufacturing materials and components. We've seen quite a bit of innovation from the company in the past, from wide-angle camera modules to an invisible fingerprint sensor for smartphones.

Announced today, the flexible sensor is designed to measure pressure. Where current commercial pressure sensors tend to be coin-shaped, and made from rigid materials, LG's new device is bendable, and capable of measuring the level of external force across its entire surface.

The sensor is made from a highly elastic polyurethane, making it well suited to use in wearables. The material is inserted between electronic fibers, with electric poles detecting deformation in the material, and that information the being used to quantify the amount of pressure being applied.

It's durable, and works in temperatures ranging from -40° C to 80° C (-40° F to 176° F). According to LG, it'll work even after an average man, weighing some 70 kg (154 lb), has sat on it 100,000 times.

The company envisages the sensors being used in everything from clothing to cars. For example, numerous sensors could be placed in a car seat, gathering information on posture and weight, and using it to automatically adjust to an optimum driving position, or even tweak the pressure of an airbag.

It could also prove useful in sports gear, and could be used to create, for example, a smart golf club grip that can sense the pressure of your hands and provide advice on improving your swing. Medical applications have been suggested, too, such as being integrated into footwear or flooring, and providing information on patient balance during injury rehabilitation.

Given that the sensor is essentially in the concept stage, it'll likely be some time before it turns up in any products you can actually buy.

Source: LG Innotek

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