Reconfigurable Fabric Project

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Computation, storage, and communication are now woven into the fabrics of our society with much of the progress being due to the relentless march of the silicon-based electronics technology as predicted by Moore’s Law. The emerging technology of flexible electronics, where electronics components such as transistors and wires are built on a thin flexible material, offers a similar opportunity to weave computation, storage, and communication into the fabric of the very clothing that we wear. The implications of seamlessly integrating a large number of communicating computation and storage resources, mated with sensors and actuators, in close proximity to the human body are quite exciting. For example, one can imagine biomedical applications where biometric and ambient sensors are woven into the garment of a patient or a person in a hazardous environment to trigger or modulate the delivery of a drug.
Realizing this vision is not just a matter of developing innovative materials for flexible electronics, along with accompanying sensors and actuators. The characteristics of the flexible electronics technology and the novel applications enabled by it require innovation at the system-level technology level. The technology of electronics in flexible materials has characteristics and computation-communication cost trade-offs that are very different from that of silicon and PCB-based electronics. The natural applications of these systems have environmental dynamics, physical coupling, resource constraints, infrastructure support, and robustness requirements that are distinct from those faced by traditional systems. This combination requires one to go beyond thinking of these systems as traditional systems in a different flexible form factor. Instead, a rethinking of the architecture and the design methodology for all layers of these systems is required.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0205682.


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Last Updated on Wednesday July 02, 2003 11:02 AM -0700