Sports monitors are becoming more and more important in both professional and amateur industries, and medical monitoring inventions are already beginning to save lives. But while this field is far from untouched, companies around the world are making groundbreaking inventions in the field to bring better, cheaper, and more convenient options to the market. One of these companies, Danfos, has created a film that can be used for acute motion sensing which could be used in both sports and medical for a variety of purposes. One example already used by Danfos was to show a golfer how they could perfect their swing by seeing what they are doing wrong. Another possible example would be to measure the damage done to tendons based on how far and fast the wearer could move their wrist.
PolyPower from Danfos
PolyPower is essentially an electrostatic film that contracts and lengthens around movement. While it moves with the wearer, it also records data that it transmits to a computer or phone app, which is then transferred into readable data. While what Polypower picks up is nothing but ‘energy waves’ the data can be used to depict actual movement of the body and actual energy. Because it picks up energy through stretch sensors and electrostatic sensing, it can detail force, position, stance, and more. All of this data can definitely be applied in both medical and sports fields, although Danfos suggests that that isn’t all they play on using PolyPower for.
How Does it Work
PolyPower is made of a prototype material known as DEAP or Dielectric Electro Active Polymer. This material is layered as a film over silicone dielectrics with a thin layer of corrugated metal mesh over the top. DEAP materials react to electric stimulus, and expand and contract with the metal. The whole setup is thin enough to be easily integrated into clothing and can be used for sensing and reacting to energy. The current sensor version from Danfos is a wireless stretch-sensor that is being used to detail stance, movement, force, and body position for sports players and is mostly used on the elbows and knee where positions can affect player performance. In fact, one recent demo of the film showed an integrated unit with Bluetooth, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. This unit was used to help golfers improve their swing by measuring and displaying motion, gait, volume, and force.
While its use as a monitoring material is definitely impressive, Danfos suggests that the PolyPower could soon be used to harvest energy. The ability to sense energy and movement is a reversal of the natural process of the polymer, so harvesting energy would be natural for the setup. Danfos is already working on prototypes that they intend to use for harvesting offshore wave energy, which would be a huge achievement for the world of green energy, if mildly irrelevant to the world of wearable tech.
For now, Danfos’ PolyPower is a great new achievement for wearable tech in that it can be integrated into arm and knee braces, and eventually probably helmets, protective gear, and possibly even shoes for sports monitoring.