Converting Curmudgeon: 2022 FLEX Wrap-Up: From color-changing cars to blood-glucose-monitoring wrist-bands

By Editor-in-Chief Mark A. Spaulding

SEMI CTO Melissa Grupen-Shemansky (above) introduces the three opening keynote presenters at last week's flexible-electronics 2022 FLEX Conference & Expo in San Francisco, which ran alongside SEMICON WEST. The talks covered how electrophoretic display technology will change the look of automobiles, transportation and beyond; IARPA's new SMART ePANTS Program for weaving electronics into textiles; and multilayer flexible-electronic devices for IoT and RF applications (see photos below).

2022 FLEXI Awards recognize latest developments, staff careers

 The FLEXI Awards recognize the achievements of organizations and individuals in the flexible-electronics sector. The awards are given annually by FlexTech. A panel of industry experts comes together once a year to evaluable the submissions and determine the awards.

R&D Achievements: Dr. Sheng Xu of the University of California-San Diego for his fully-integrated wireless, ultrasound patch.

Product Innovation: E ink and BMW for their new flexible electrophoretic, color-changing wrap for the BMW iX FLOW all-electric concept car. See YouTube here.

Environmental Sustainability Champion: Bob Priano, CIO and co-founder, CHASM Advanced Materials, Inc.

Industry Leadership: Michael Ciesinski, CEO and president, FlexTech Alliance (retired) and vp-SEMI (retired)

Student Poster Competition: First-Place went to Jacob Manzi of Boise State University on "Plasma-jet-based printing and in-situ sintering of gold patterns for paper-based flexible electronics."

Dr. Michael McCreary of E ink gave an in-depth look at how BMW used electrophoretic-display technology to create the first color-changing car, the BMW iX FLOW all-electric concept vehicle, introduced at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Dr. Dawson Cagle of IARPA described the new "SMART ePANTS Program - Weaving electronics into textiles." Development of comfortably worn sensor systems for use in situations such as onsite arms-control inspections is one objective of the program for the intelligence community and the US Dept. of Defense.

Dr. John Williams of BOEING Research and Technology offered a glimpse at how the aviation-aeronautics maker plans to use IoT and RF flexible electronics to increase the efficiency of its many manufacturing operations.

My Thoughts: Two new developments described during Wednesday's "Future FLEX Disruptors" session held some personal interest for me.

1) PyreAmes' new wrist-band blood-pressure meter that provides continuous, real-time readouts of a person's blood pressure. Not only does this solve the infection and blood-clotting issues around traditional invasive, arterial catheters during surgery, but it can be used on infants (who have very tiny arteries) in neonatal intensive-care units.

2) Alertgy's new biometric wrist-band for continuous monitoring of a person's blood glucose. While today's base of CGMs measure chemicals in the cells' interstitial fluid to determine glucose level, the new flexible-electronic band actually measures glucose in the blood and in real-time via a dielectric spectrometer.