Wearable technology refers to any class of electronic items that can be comfortably worn on the body. This covers an ever-growing range of application and product segments, from health and fitness trackers to immersive infotainment systems. They are governed by many of the same principles and trends as other electronics markets, namely extremely high consumer demand for greater functionality in smaller formats. Developers are consistently tasked with miniaturizing devices without compromising on battery life or performance, which mandates next-generation material solutions like graphene sensors.
Graphene Wearable Electronics: Market Outlook
The wearable electronics market continues to experience enormous commercial growth due to the release of coveted commercial goods like smartwatches and virtual reality (VR) headsets, contributing to an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5%. Provided the market continues to grow as expected, the global wearable electronics market will be worth over $67 billion by 2024.
Although commercialized wearable electronics are now well-cemented in the consciousness of global consumers, they occupy a novel segment of the market. Medical and military-grade wearables have been used routinely for years, while professional sports have exploited health and wellness trackers integrated into clothing for almost as long. Graphene wearable electronics are expected to bridge the gap between these more sophisticated market segments and consumers, allowing the general public to benefit from advanced functionality wearables in increasingly ergonomic formats.
If you would like to read more about the functionality of graphene sensors, please refer to our previous article A Guide to Graphene Sensors
Here, we will explore a couple of promising designs of graphene wearable electronics that are currently in various stages of development.
Graphene Wearables: UV-Detection Patch
One interesting graphene wearable prototype is a flexible, transparent substrate that can be directly applied to the wearer’s skin. The patch detects and monitors exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays and, with advanced internet of things (IoT) connectivity, and can alert the user once they have reached a pre-defined threshold of exposure to sunlight. This could help prevent a range of harmful conditions, from sunburn to melanoma.
Graphene-Based Health & Wellness Sensors
Using the same key technology as the previous application, researchers are increasingly hopeful of integrating graphene-based sensors and substrates into fitness trackers with unprecedented levels of functionality. Currently, commercial devices such as smartwatches often feature rudimentary heart-rate monitors based on infrared (IR) sensors, and movement trackers based on integrated accelerometers.
With superior biocompatibility, graphene sensors could offer more detailed insights into a wide range of health and wellness signals, including hydration, oxygen saturation, continuous blood pressure monitoring and temperature. Additionally, graphene sensors are being developed for pregnant mothers in the form of a wearable patch, that can monitor and track fetal movements in real time, sending potential indicaitons of a problem to medical professionals.
Graphene Sensor Materials from Grolltex
Grolltex is one of the industry-leading producers of single-layer graphene for sensor applications. We utilise a proprietary chemical vapour deposition (CVD) methodology to produce monolayer materials on substrates of your choosing.
We are increasingly servicing researchers and product developers with graphene solutions for sensor and wearable applications and are eager to see how the market progresses in the coming years. For more information about our graphene sensor materials, simply contact a member of the Grolltex team today.