PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Apr2015

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April 2015 • The PCB Magazine 45 select those materials best suited for a reliable, wearable product. Matties: You've mentioned that electronics can learn from other industries—like apparel for in- stance? Vrtis: Apparel is one. From an electronics standpoint, we're getting smarter in that area. How do we integrate our electronics into that fabric system? Do you use the fabric as your sub- strate, base system and print directly on the fab- ric, or place it in the fabric? Printed electronics is going to be very important in the apparel side, where there are multiple circuit pattern applica- tion options such as stencil print, screen print, inkjet, and others. Making the circuit pattern on a fabric is fairly simple, but when you are putting that it into a jacket or some sort of a shirt to wear, how do you link all of the circuits together? Matties: So if we fast-forward 10 years from now, the level of complexity and functionality has got to be just crazy. Vrtis: Consider what happened with the phones. It's amazing the amount of density that is now in the phones from a printed circuit standpoint. The displays have become so much better and bigger. If you think about a wearable, everything is going to have to be some sort of flexible circuitry, and be able to handle stresses such as flexing; the material side of the busi- ness and the equipment side are truly going to enable what can happen. Getting in front of that and positioning with roadmapping activi- ties that predict the trends is essential. Other aspects, of course, are power and recharging re- quirements. Right now, you can easily plug in a phone, but if you're wearing one of these smart watches or it's a medical device and you want or need it 24/7, how do you recharge? What does the battery look like? What happens when you immerse it water? There are a lot of things that need to converge to make advanced wearable solutions happen. In 10 years, I think the mate- rial side, the equipment side, and definitely the vision of people thinking of these things that seem way out of the box are all going to drive some of the new technologies. Matties: Is there anything else you would like to share about this technology? Vrtis: Yes, probably one more thing. One of the very important things in wearable prod- ucts is making sure it has sustainability. In the medical sector of the business of Multek and Flextronics, we are seeing very interesting op- portunities in wearable technology. Of course, in some cases it has to go through a lot of regu- latory steps. What has been learned from the consumer side of business is now transcending into the medical side and that sustainability is going to be critical. Matties: When I think of medical and wearables, I think of extending lives, because of the instant feedback and the potential for notification that something might be happening prior to an event. Vrtis: All these wearables are really part of this intelligence of things, right? You want to connect everything. People talk about big data…what is that data and how can we learn from it? The world is now connected. The for- matting of connecting, the data of connect- ing and then also making sure there is security around that data is really going to be impor- tant. Since so many people want to have their phones connected to other things, the phone is definitely the hub, which is how I see it for probably the next few years—until something new comes out. I don't know what that is yet. But the phone will be the hub for anything wearable. When you get into the medical ap - plications, this technology has the opportuni- ty to help so many people because the patient can be at home and the doctor or profession- THE CHALLENGES OF THE FAST-MOVING WEARABLES MARKET continues IntervIew

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