According to Pete - Spectra Symbol Contest and Workspace Tour!

Are you chock full of brilliant ideas? Then perhaps we have a contest for you.

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Today, we have a very special episode of "According to Pete." In this edition, Pete gives you a tour of his workspace (and goes over which tools he can't live without!).

More importantly, however, Pete announces the SparkFun/Spectra Symbol contest. In a nutshell, the contest is this - Spectra Symbol has a pretty cool flexible circuit design that we'd like to use in a new product, but we're struggling to decide exactly how. So the person who comes up with the best idea for a SparkFun product that uses this nifty little design gets 1) a bunch of SparkFun swag and 2) A royalty agreement that'll pay you a percentage for each product sold! Confused? Check out the video:



So there you have it - please feel free to leave any questions in the comments below and, of course, submit your entry to the contest as well. We will not accept entries sent via other means, so please only submit your entry in the comments section! Best of luck!

Comments 225 comments

  • horack / about 11 years ago * / 8

    A literal Book of Circuits with a different working circuit on every page, perhaps an audio amp with piezo speaker, a radio receiver, a matrix display, a micoprocessor with IO lines extended, some opto isolated reed relays, etc. The binding can contain the batteries and any common circuitry, regulator(s), etc.. Connection points exist on every page to inputs and outputs and you just hook up jumper wires between pages. Maybe color code the connections (a color splotch on plastic if it can be color printed too) to indicate max voltage/current input or output. Pages can be moved around in binding (even removed from it). Allow extra pages to be added later. Maybe create a circuit club where members submit ideas and the winner has their page of the month released to the public. Perhaps some information about each circuit is printed on each page. Maybe not super practical but it would look awesome. Just seeing through all those layered circuits would look like an art piece. (Note that I had this as an edit to an earlier submission I had but moved it as its own post in case Pete and/or other judges already started at the top and made their way through the list. I wanted this entry to get its own shot.)

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 2

      That'd be a pricey book, cool idea though.

      • What Pearce said. Amazing idea, expensive to implement. Like those old encyclopedia inserts of the human body that always made me sick, but cooler.

        • horack / about 11 years ago * / 1

          Well, it can end up being an expensive book, but might be affordable if you just buy a page at a time. It just reminds me of this comic book I used to get as a kid (in the old country). Every issue would contain some type of surprise, a gadget or product. I could hardly wait to get the next issue (much like your Friday new product posts).These pages could also be issued periodically. You can even make them available as a yearly subscription or allow people to buy pages a la carte. Maybe tie the circuits in with "According to Pete" topics. They would make a nice collection, especially if each page was signed by Pete (the collectors' editions could be physically signed, the others would just be a graphic of the signature)

          • Kratz / about 11 years ago / 1

            Not to mention, if it had a standardize and open form factor and power connection, I could see a lot of other people selling Circuit Book pages. If the binding itself had some standard bus connections also, you could issue breakout and experiment pages for individual chips/products. That could reduce cost by having just one Arduino/AVR page, rather than having to put a Micro on every page that needed one. It could even become a standardized way to issue part samples/breakouts.

          • What horack said. This circuit would be just page 1. Perhaps build a 'duino into the binder and issue with one or two pages and periodically release additional pages. Maybe sell them in themed groups with a modest discount (once the library was sufficiently large).

    • DrPhibes / about 11 years ago * / 2

      That's a brilliant idea, it would be so easy to make customized binders to accommodate different grade levels and supplement other learning tools. Reminds me of the Wheels and Wings subscriptions back in the day, I was always so excited to get that next set of inserts.

    • BranchofLight / about 11 years ago / 1

      This would be the coolest magazine in the world. Bar. None.

  • Jeez. OK, there's a lot of ideas here. Reading, reading...

    Day 2, and the ideas keep coming. Thanks all for playing! We're still reading, and in some cases conversing. It's likely that a few of the best ideas will get swag, even if they don't go all the way to production. But we may need a week or so to sort through all of this, especially with AVC coming up this Saturday.

    6/12: AVC is done and we're reviewing the entries. We'll contact the top 3 and send out swag. I'm also talking to SpectraSymbol to see what's doable from their perspective as far as some of these ideas.

    • jon.whitten / about 11 years ago / 1

      Got room for one more?

      A flexible headset --possible rubber: For example see from Amazon:

      Bluetooth A2DP streaming Inductively charged for convenience

      The kit could include the charger that could be soldered together.

  • 610bob / about 11 years ago / 5

    What about a roll up dot matrix display? It would work great if you wanted a display on an uneven surface, like a tree, or the edge of a desk.

    • This is sort of already that.

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      Something to remember is the components aren't flexible, so while flexible, the flexible nature of the widget will be limited to how far it can bend without popping solder joints.

      • 610bob / about 11 years ago / 1

        Yea. That's the big problem with this stuff. It would be great for a specific use case, but most widgets require a microcontroller. and the size of most microcontrollers make the flexibility kind of of a mute point. However, with the size of a smd led, I don't think the flexibility of a dot matrix display would be a problem.

        • The LEDs would still have to be spaced a bit to make any use of the flexibility, but I think it's workable. Maybe 8" x 8", spaced at 1/2" intervals, 256 LEDs...?

          One thing I think people are forgetting is that this stuff isn't a hinge. It won't break as quickly as Kapton, but it will still break if you work it too much. So the application has to be one where some amount of initial flexibility is necessary, but then it's going to stay that way indefinitely.

          • 610bob / about 11 years ago / 1

            That was exactly what I was thinking. Also, if you use something like the WS2801 IC, to control each led, and then put a breakout header every so often, you could make a large roll of this stuff. Then you could sell something like 8" by 2'. Then the customer could cut their own size display.

          • syndicated / about 11 years ago * / 1

            Below I was suggesting overlaying it on a slap bracelet and using plastic fiber optic strands to transmit light rather than arrays of LEDs. Basically use their tech to put whatever components you need (a uC, maybe BLE+uC, some sensor variants such as temp, pulse, accelerometer) on one side of the strip, then use their polymer to provide a flexible encapsulant for the fiber strands.

            You could also ditch the slap bracelet and put an adhesive backing on it to stick on curved surfaces, maybe bike frames, drum kit, whatever people think of.

  • Kratz / about 11 years ago / 4

    How about a sticky remote control? It says on there website the White Flex can have graphics attached to one side. Place a bunch of dome buttons on one side and combine it with either a IR LED (or some other type of wireless), slap an AVR on it, and some cool SparkFun graphics. You could leave a tab at the bottom for a flat connector for programming. That way you could program a custom remote control for your TV that you could stick right to your coffee table or wall. Or any other type of control for that matter. Just stick it and forget it!

  • Circuit-gami - you could "fold" up the circuit and make animate origami. A crane that can flap its wings, a dragon with glowing eyes, a frog that croaks when you touch it, there are so many cool possibilities.

    • ElegantElectrons / about 11 years ago / 1

      Now that's creative. Combine flex sensors, nano-muscle type movement and flex circuits.

  • As I keep thinking up possible ideas (and as I keep reading others), the same question pops into my head: "could this be done with rigid boards?" and the answer is always "yeah, pretty much." (The other theme is flexible sensors, of which, the flexible sensor already is flexible.) Alas, it seems industry has answered the question: flexible circuits are really only useful as interconnects.

    So, okay, that's my suggestion: interconnects. It would be nice to have an extremely compact interconnect with, say, 2 20-mil "power" traces and 6 or 8 minimum-sized signal traces packed as tight as possible. Get hold of the appropriate terminating connectors and strain reliefs too then make some break-out boards (perhaps the boards could physically integrate a mechanical strain relief). (Oh, and make a way to note "pin-1"!)

    The idea is to offer something that is superior to running wire or using conductive thread. Lengths could be a really short one for just putting two boards back-to-back, like 4 cm, a medium length of 10 cm for connecting between boards inside a project, and maybe 80 cm or so so you could run a cable down the sleeve of a wearable project to a control panel. If double-sided boards are possible, running the signal wires as pseudo-twisted pairs to improve signal integrity would be a cool twist.

    But aside from that, my favorite is the "slap bracelet watch" (or other device) in another comment: it's the only one where it seems valid to put circuitry on the flexible part due to space constraints. But even then, it could be a regular device with a slap-bracelet as a band.

    • You've pretty well illustrated all of my reservations. Even with interconnects, I'd be using wire because I trust it more. That said, my preferences don't necessarily reflect those of everyone else.

      Some of the engineers were hanging back on comments here because they didn't want to shoot anybody down for their ideas. But these are the conversations that happen in our meetings, you know? This is how we haggle out a good product, and this is part of good engineering. If an idea can't withstand even a little scrutiny, it's not going to be worth pursuing. And they're all getting scrutinized in the background, but I really wanted to bring this discussion to the forefront so everybody could see how this is done and take part in the discussions.

      • If you'll indulge me (well, if you won't, then stop reading now, I guess), allow me to add another comment. I also have a disdain for selecting board-level connectors. If I want something substantially smaller than 100 mil headers, I turn to the Mill-Max catalog. After my eyes turn bloodshot from browsing the catalog, drawings, and datasheets for interminable hours, I finally give up and pick some barely-acceptable connector. I go to the usual sources and discover it's not actually stocked by anybody — or that half is but the other half is not.

        I would love a source for very-small board-to-board interconnects with both mating ends in stock, an option to do SMD myself, and a break-out board that can be used with a 100 mil header or to splice to wires. I mean, the JST-SH is a pretty good start — I may just start making projects with those — but an addition (hint) would be a selection of connector-to-connector cables.

      • I agree that wire (like rigid circuit boards) is almost always the right answer. But, for example, I think flex-circuit interconnects would have worked with a custom LED strip I was working on with someone else. The idea was a set of 3 boards that would let me drive RGB LED's using a couple PCA9922 shift registers, but the number of wires we'd need between boards (8 I think) made it too big. (You could nearly indefinitely chain sets of 3 boards together and use it as a big shift register.) Thin wire was fragile and labor-intensive; multi-conductor wire was too big. The goal was to make something wearable without having to worry about failing electrical connections, or without having to hand-wire 8 threads between each board.

        I guess I find that 8-10 conductors would cover 95% of my needs for low-current, flexible connections. When wire isn't the answer, I don't have an alternative.

  • toiz / about 11 years ago / 3

    I think that a simple array of LEDs with varying sizes on a flexible circuit board would be cool. It would be broad enough that people could use it for lots of different applications. It could be used in E-Textiles like on a shirt or arm band to display pictures or other information. It could also be used to put on odd shaped objects like cylinders or cones where conventional circuit boards would not work. You could also add an Arduino so that everything would be on the flex circuit. It is hard to get a fully customizable flex circuit board since adding solder, like on protoboard, reduces flexibility. Therefore, the circuit has to be pretty close to complete without much need to add components, except for perhaps a few wires, when sent to the customer to retain flexibility. I think a simple array of LEDs would reach the most people and make for some really neat projects.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      Great suggestion, it's a universal need, and you have an excellent grasp of all the strange issues involved with flex circuitry. How many LEDs would you implement, and would you do a single color (easier and cheaper) or RGB? (harder to implement and more expensive, but more universal).

  • Ben Rothschild / about 11 years ago / 3

    You could use it to build a robotic hand kit. With a couple of servos and some 3D printed joints you could build fingers (I can design and print some for you). The sensor would then bend with the finger without fear of breaking the sensor. This would allow you to receive feedback to "feel" when your hand is closed around the object and you have a good grasp. It could be mounted on and used on a robot out of your line of sight, but still be usable because you would know when the hand was fully closed.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it looks like there was an ATtiny85/ATtiny45 in the circuit. If so then you could drive the servos directly off of the ATtiny so you wouldn't need any other controllers.

    • Member #389208 / about 11 years ago / 1

      Thats a neat idea.

    • Ben121 / about 11 years ago / 1

      This is a good application, grippers generally, and grippers with sense built-in. Optical sensors and capacitive sensors can help a griper find its target before knocking over a glass of milk for example, while pressure sensors can balance the fine line between crush and slip.

      even more cool; a base board with cap sense transmit, a silicon layer, and a contact layer with cap sense, allowing the base to detect the position of the sense layer, and thus the compression of the silicon /in 3D/ thus providing the critical - is this slipping? feedback.

  • Lippy / about 11 years ago / 3

    I hope this hasn't already been mentioned but I would like to create a heart rate monitor that can be wrapped around the wrist. The amplification and filtering stage can be done on the flexi-circuit board and use a Piezo film sensor to detect the heart beat (e.g. SDT1-028K). Also a small 3 x 8 segment display to display the heart beat would be a bonus feature and maybe also be used to display the time.

  • Raighteye / about 11 years ago / 3

    I think you should look at the possibilities it gives e-textile projects. I think that you can sew into the flexible circuit with a sewing machine. What means that we E-textile fans don't have to spend hours hand-sewing. And won't the flexible circuit design make the circuits more suitable for machine wash?

    So my official idea is, machine sew-able circuits and components.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      That's an interesting idea. The plastic material is surprisingly tough, so I don't know if a machine would have trouble piercing it or not. I'm also not sure if you'd get a good connection or not. But the idea of big tabs you can machine-sew to is very cool.

  • zool / about 11 years ago / 3

    hmm, flexible capsense would be good in both keypad and strip form

    also, that way it's more of just something you sell rather than a full circuit/product and people can come up with their own ideas

    you already sell a flexible arduino clone so it could be used in conjunction with that if someone needs it to be completely flexible

    • BFisch1983 / about 11 years ago / 2

      This was one of the best ideas I could think of, but I'm late to the party. Just wanted to comment to agree that I think this would be a cool product for sparkfun. Put double sided tape on the back and you can add buttons to just about anything. You should also be able to print a "custom interface" on an inkjet and tape it over the front. You could design an array in a way that also allows the user to cut it down to size if they need fewer buttons on a particular project. This would give the product uses a lot of ....... flexibility.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 2

      Not bad! Would you incorporate a capsense chip, or just have bare leads and use the Arduino library?

      • zool / about 11 years ago / 1

        either,.. but a chip would probably make it easier, more accurate, and take up less pins it might allow for 2d multitouch and sliders that you might not be able to do with the basic arduino library

        it may also need resistors and a flex cable connector or just a breakout to connect to an arduino or other board

        I know spectra symbol can make thin panels but they use tactile buttons and soft pots.. a flexible capacitive sensor panel would be cool because you could conceal it behind stuff like acrylic, something curved or odd shaped.

  • Chandhooguy / about 11 years ago / 3

    You could add something like an OLED and make it like a future thing where you can view stuff anywhere, on anything! It would be really portable, and maybe it could have something like a sensor that detected when you put it on your wrist and turned into a watch!

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      It sounds like a cool project, what would it offer from a development or non-standalone usability standpoint?

      • Chandhooguy / about 11 years ago / 1

        You could also have a small strip that could connect to other devices to share data.

      • Chandhooguy / about 11 years ago / 1

        Considering you could use it anywhere, it would be great for reminders. Developers could also use it as storage devices, to show data such as graphs or code, and possibly be able to upload "mini OS"'s which they could test out programs on.

  • Mount a strip of 90degree SMD edge-lit LEDs on one side, a flat coil behind them, and a hard-mount point behind the coil. Suspend over a magnet. Feed coil AC waveform, sync the LEDs to the waveform and create a micro-miniature POV, with a very narrow, but detailed (and super high framerate). Think like a miniature 8x1 dot matrix display that starts as an edge-viewed slice of film until it powers up, and starts oscillating up and down. Also doubles as a miniature fan, pulling air past the coil and LEDs.

    I used to do lots of experiments with old BEAM bicore circuits, floppy drive coils, and neodymium magnets, so I know this is physically possible. Made some pretty slick looking flapping devices this way, but the traces in the Kapton wore out.

  • chipaudette / about 11 years ago / 3

    Flex circuits could be good for replacing discrete wiring on body-worn sensors. I'm talking about ECG/EMG/EEG kind of measurements where you need several electrodes on the skin. Traditionally, the individual electrodes have individual lead wires. These lead wires can move and wiggle, which introduces ugly artifacts in the signal. If you replace the wires with a flex circuit, you keep the ability to conform to the non-flat shape of the body, while eliminating those pesky wires. So, the most direct idea would be a flex circuit for ECG. Make it big enough to go from the top to the bottom of the heart, in a "C" shape, passing over the breast bone. Embed 3-6 of these electrode snaps wired back to a few ECG instrumentation amplifiers. Provide a header or solder pads for the user to apply power and bring the analog signals back to an Arduino. The user would attach disposable ECG electrodes, run a Arduino sketch, and be able to see the electrical wavefront moving through their heart (the QRS complex) followed by the wavefront moving back as the heart re-polarizes (the T-wave). Great for knowing exactly when your Frankenstein has come to life!

  • GeorgeW / about 11 years ago / 2

    This is similar to some of the other suggestions about interconnects, but I would like to see something very, very basic: what amounts to a ribbon cable, but with a row of exposed pads crossing the width of the "ribbon" every so often; the pads in a row would be spaced 0.1" apart, and there would a row every inch or two along the length or the ribbon. You could cut the ribbon to length (or to width). ALONG WITH the ribbon cable are ACCESSORIES: For prototyping, a simple clip, similar to a hair barrette - maybe even thin strips of rigid plastic pressed together using rare earth magnets - that can press the ribbon firmly onto a PCB to make a quick temporary connection with a row of exposed pads on the PCB; you could clip a couple of ribbons onto something like the Arduino ProMini and not have to solder on headers. If that's not sturdy enough, something like an IDC connector consisting of two PCB strips that you screw together to make a sandwich, with the ribbon in the middle; the PCB strips could have a surface-mounted header, a SOIC breakout, whatever. You could have a whole line of parts...

    • horack / about 11 years ago / 1

      Very simple and yet could be pretty useful. I like it. You could even cut the strips lengthwise if you just needed a 2 line connector (maybe make your own light strip, great since it's flexible AND transparent). Sell it by the foot so you buy as long a strip as you want.

  • Hello Pete,

    What about using the flexibility of the circuit board to make a sort of dead-simple age tracker for foodstuffs? Using the small and cheap 2-3 digit black and white numerical display (think old calculator display), lithium coin-cell battery, and Atmega chip, Sparkfun could make a device that displays the number of days since a foodstuff has been bought and opened. Consuming very little power and built upon a flexible substrate, this device could be easily puttied or"stickered" onto a carton, can, or oddly-shaped container and could tell the user at a glance just how safe the food is to eat. Using this device, keeping track of perishable items would be much easier and safer for everyone involved, especially if used in a communal setting.

    In a setting where communal refrigerators and pantries are the norm (such as within college dormitories and small startup companies), making the current age of a particular food item easily identifiable at a glance would drastically reduce rates of accidental and preventable food poisoning due to expired food, and would also make refrigerator maintenance easier and less gross for the parties involved. As an example of just how dangerous not identifying foodstuffs ages can be, I want to draw your attention to a story I heard first hand while visiting MIT.

    Back in October of 1994, in MIT's "Random Hall" dormitory, one student had bought a carton of milk for the dorm's communal fridge. For whatever reason, this milk was never finished, had no clearly marked date, and was shoved to the back of the 'fridge and forgotten -- for more than a year. Next year, someone found the milk, checked the sell-by date (which only marked the month and day), saw that the sell-by date seemed alright, and almost took a drink from it. Thankfully, as the kid poured a glass, he could see that it had obviously spoiled and did not take a drink. Needless to say, that college kid came /incredibly/ close to getting some horrendously severe food poisoning. -- All of which could have been prevented had there been some sort of Sparkfun manufactured electronic "sticker" that displayed the number of days since that carton of milk was first bought.

    Although monitoring foodstuffs could be one use for such a cheap, flexible two-segment display device, other uses could be found as well. By releasing the source code, the device could be hacked into a wristwatch with a smaller than usual display, a stopwatch, or general purpose computerized identification sticker.


    PS: That milk is still there! At over 18 years old, the carton has dissolved, but has been placed inside of a specially designed quarantine container in a special fridge over at Random Hall. It's actually quite gross when you see it in person...

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 2

      This is the most amazing thing I've read in a long time.

  • Gerdid1 / about 11 years ago / 2

    One of the purposes of the Flex Circuit is to save space and to be flexible, so what if we use the Flex Circuit in our hand making a "magic glove", that every finger has its own function, let's call them; thumb(1), index finger(2), middle finger(3), ring finger(4) and the baby finger(5), one of the possibilities I see is, maybe, use the fingers 1 and 5 as a headset, in which 1 has an earphone and 5 has a microphone, this connected to a MCU which is located in the palm or in the forearm that connects to a cellphone or via Bluetooth, another function in 2 is a LED or a laser point(making the magic glove part of the dairy life), and the functions continue, in 3 and 4 there are going to be attached sensors (temperature, pulse, barometric, humidity) and a display making it a multifunctional clock, or that the fingers were configurable if the customer want it. The functions can be activated by flex sensors or simply by switches. By this way The Flex Circuit can be useful using it in our hand, something that every day we use and the Flex Circuit in the “magic glove” will save space and will adapt to fingers movements.

    It’s just an idea

  • As others have noted, something that can be done with a rigid board is not a cool flexible circuit design. And I understand the reluctance to use this for an application that must bend in use when you don't yet have experience with the way it holds up to repeated flexing, leading to Pete's suggestion that the right design will use the flex during installation but remain stationary once installed.

    One thing that comes to mind is flex versions of SMT breakout boards with the breakout at the head end, several choices of strip lengths, and the corresponding socket for the tail end. Assuming the White Flex Circuits support vias, the flex strips could be double-sided and extremely narrow. This would allow a great deal of leeway in physically routing (low-frequency) signals from e.g. SMT sensor ICs back to control boards in customer projects, something that's clumsier today using breakout boards and fly wires and bulkier using breakout boards and ribbon cables.

  • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 2

    For everyone thinking that a flexible Arduino would be useful, it's been done (and we carry it!): Seeeduino FILM.

    If that's not how you would do it, tell us specifically how you'd make it better. Keep in mind that you need to play to the strengths and weaknesses of the material.

  • Ian Hattwick / about 11 years ago / 2

    I think you'd get the most people interested in a flex-protoboard, or a mini flex-arduino.

    A flex-protoboard would have a rigid section in the middle big enough for a DIP, and rigid sections wide enough for one row of headers each on the sides. The traces connecting the rigid sections would be made of a flex circuit. Like this:

    A flex arduino could be similar, a central rigid board with the ucontroller, resonator, and power regulator in a line on a narrow pcb, and rigid boards on either side with header sockets all connected with flex circuit.

    One nice thing about both of these ideas is that they could modular, in the sense that you make a roll of flex circuit with following layout: header, header, dip, header, header, header, header, header, dip, header, etc. And the you could use scissors to trim the roll to the dimensions you need. You could also use a razor to isolate sections of headers, like you'd do with one of these:

  • Funhough / about 11 years ago / 2

    How about that phone from " Total Recall"?... No,ok... How about a forearm, wristband? With built in slider, some buttons- Armduino? OpenLog...For biometric use. Hey, I could even use the old IPhone armband for the battery (sensor storage? Deluxe pack..). Solarpower? Flexibel? 3 axis accelerometer standard today... Tron like traces?- Read EL-technology. Make it look good. Dust and waterproof, check!

    Shipping date?

    • ElegantElectrons / about 11 years ago / 1

      I like the biometric idea. They're measuring pulse with light and color sensing and I heard something about blood sugar being correlated to skin impedance.

  • Chris W / about 11 years ago / 2

    After viewing over the data sheet from Spectra Symbol I could see something like a flexible capacitive button grid (2x2 for a small case) could be useful. The cap touch electronics could be integrates somewhere. With proper shielding in the design you could put the buttons down onto an arm and use it as a small keypad.

  • Chris57 / about 11 years ago * / 2

    You could re-create the sign language glove & make it more robust/easy to wear/water-resistant (cover everything in a thin coating of some conformal coating material or this:

    A link to your previous sign-language posting:

    you could embed the resistive strips into the glove fingers, use conductive thread to extend the sensors to a microcontroller that is connected via bluetooth to a cell-phone or some other wireless speaker. You could also mount the gyroscope's/other sensors using the flexible PCB material. Some sort of coating would help secure the IC's to the flexible PCB material and the material itself would help make a glove that could be easy/comfortable to wear and not have an Arduino hanging off the top of your hand. Make it open source & allow the community to hack away at it/improve upon the design, could become a cool product.

    I haven't had a chance to play with all of your "wearable" circuitry items, but I could see the glove becoming a more robust version of this actual product (I knew I saw a more formal/non-academic version of your previously-mentioned post before...):

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      The tough thing about flex circuits is that they're not conducive to modification - you pretty much want everything you'll need for a circuit there to begin with, which tends to lead to finished products (like a glove) rather than the modules SparkFun usually likes to give people.

      But having said that, a hand-shaped board with flex and pressure sensors along the fingers, with an Arduino-compatible MPU to digest all that data (possibly with an accelerometer / gyro) could be usable for a number of different things. You'd need to have both left and right-handed versions. Would lateral finger motion be an issue? And would it have to come in different sizes?

      • Chris57 / about 11 years ago / 1

        Agreed, once it is put together it would be more like a finished product, but as long as you make the Arduino-compatible MPU re-programmable (break out a USB mini connector w/ an ftdi IC) you would be ok. To make it slightly modular you could add a break-out port (somehow) that allows for either a bluetooth module, x-bee module, or wifi module as you already have a unified breakout board for all 3 of them. Would let users get hand data to pretty much any wireless enabled device of their choosing and no hardware modifications would need to be made.

        Lateral Finger Motion: I'm not a sign language expert, but a quick google search of the sign language alphabet shows that it might however I don't think that would be a hard problem to fix. You can't bend the flex sensors sideways but you can add conductive fabric on the sides of the fingers that could act as switches to indicate whether two fingers are touching and de-bounce them in software.

        Different sizes: You can go with the un-spoken average glove size, which is simply the size of gloves that random companies hand out at running races in goodie bags. Boulder Running Company and Runners Roost seem to always be giving out gloves and they seem to fit most people. If you avoid putting sensors on the finger tips you can also make finger-less gloves. The flex sensor doesn't need to run along the entire length of the finger to get proper readings.

  • 610bob / about 11 years ago / 2

    What about a flexible 7 segment display. If it is possible, use something like EL wire as the segments.

  • Member #443465 / about 11 years ago / 2

    This idea has been toyed with a few times, and I think it could serve a useful purpose. "Bunk" in a previous post mentioned a watch. He had the circuit completely contained in the top part, but I think it would be more useful to space it across the entire band. This watch could be like a much more advanced BigTime kit with mostly (If not all) SMT components. This could have at least 30 SMT LED's arranged in four seven segment formations along with the two dots in the middle of the characters on most digital watches. With a small SMT button, it would be possible to only have the time show up when the button is pressed, in order to satisfy the relatively large current draw of the micro controller. Where the band ends this could have a standard six pin header for attaching this to an FTDI Basic Breakout board in order to reprogram this in the familiar Arduino IDE that we all know and love. This may be pushing the size of SMT components or the flexibility of the boards, but that watch could possibly be folded into a standard credit card size to store in a wallet or pocket. If all of these ideas could be pulled off, it could be pretty impressive to have such a small Arduino compatible device with hardware built in. I hope I didn't bore you guys with the long post, but I just had to dish out all of my ideas :)

    • Member #443465 / about 11 years ago / 1

      a rectangular LED matrix could also be used insted of the seven segment one. This could teach how to control a matrix with arduino for those of us that dont yet know how.

    • Member #443465 / about 11 years ago / 1

      Sorry if I sounded like I was saying Bunks design was not good. I actually stumbled upon it some time ago and really like it a lot. I just was saying that it is meant for a hard circuit board and that it could be optimized for a flexible board.

  • bildr.josh() / about 11 years ago / 2

    What about a flexible electroluminescent (EL) power inverter? It would be so much better for EL-based clothing projects. Would that be possible? Maybe use a few button cell batteries? I dunno.

    • Huh. Sorta wacky. I don't think it would afford the wearer much protection from the high voltage, but something less bulky than I'm accustomed to would be cool.

      • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

        The bulk of the transformer would be a problem, though there are interesting designs for in-circuit transformers. But having been shocked by these circuits more than once, I don't think I'd trust one next to my skin! =)

  • Bunk / about 11 years ago / 2

    LED Watch sort of like this. Have the flexible PCB wrap around your wrist.

  • bildr.josh() / about 11 years ago / 2

    How about a simple flexible breadboard so people can make their own flexible electronics?

    • Hey Josh!

      Yeah, somebody made a similar suggestion above. There might be something to this, but I'm not sure how to make it applicable to as many projects as possible.

  • foody / about 11 years ago * / 2

    External Electromagnet Sense Bracelet

    Inspired by those implanting neodymium magnets into their fingers to gain an additional electromagnetic sense (, the device would allow users to sense an electromagnetic field without body modification.

    The device would work by detecting electromagnetic radiations ( and vary a small vibration motor ( The device would be built on the White Flex and embedded into a canvas covered slap bracelet ( to keep everything contained. A small lithium ion battery would also be embedded in the bracelet for power.

    Wearable Wrist Arduino

    For a device that is more extensible, a simple arduino board could be built on the White Flex and attached to a silicone slap bracelet ( It would be powered using a small lithium ion battery like the above idea that would be attached in the center bracelet between the outer circuit and the slap bracelet. Running along the sides of the bralet would be a line of solderable IO pins from the arduino. This device would be a perfect introduction to a different type of wearable electronics and could be used for notifications, adding extra senses like electromagnetic or uv light, or just a simple watch.

  • krdarrah1234 / about 11 years ago / 2

    A smart shoe insert? Could have a ton of sensing capability and programmed to your foot, so that you can type with your toes! There's some obvious details that would need to be worked out, like the interface, what physical electronics would be placed (if any), and of course what kind of sensing capabilities you would want (grid resistive/capacitive/pressure/temperature/etc). The applications of the device are endless! You could make a pedometer on steroids, or maybe some kind calculator that vibrates the answer to you? Haha, yea this is kind of silly, but it just popped in!

  • Raighteye / about 11 years ago / 2

    There should be a kit that you can put together using staplers. It would be an awesome kit for schools. No sewing or soldering required. Still all the fun and learning experience.

    I was thing of a radio kit. sins you could also integrate the antenna in the flexible circuit.

  • Hoobert / about 11 years ago / 2

    A Proto Snap type product that helps showcases the abilities of flexible circuits. Something like a Danger Shield: Flexible Edition. Maybe replace the snap perforations with "cut here" lines printed on it.

  • Indispensable on my bench are two more items: A Panavise and a good magnifier lamp. And I've been bitten by a Variac, so I'd use a full Lexan enclosure and a GFCI outlet if I had one of those darn things on my bench.

    • TheRegnirps / about 11 years ago / 2

      Ditto on the Variac. It is a sort of half transformer and one side passes right on through from the mains with no switch. We used to call them "student eliminators" (especially when the output went to alligator clips!). Put a DPDT on the input end and isolation transformer is even better. For those who have not worked with high currents or spread out projects, ground by definition carries no current. All the things that we call ground around the room are at different potentials due to resistance in the "ground" wires. In a big building, the return side of the AC power at one outlet might be served by a different circuit than another outlet in the room. The potential diff on the returns can be 20 volts and no shortage of current. Now, if you really want to a student eliminator, look at the constant power circuit used by bio students for electrophoresis. Contemplate the behavior of a power supply that delivers constant power. They have a lid with a switch for a reason.

    • CF / about 11 years ago / 1

      +1 on the enclosure for the variac.

      • Oh, you guys are weeners. OK, it's a bit dangerous... maybe really dangerous. And yeah, it might just be an accident waiting to happen. But I'm almost unbelievably paranoid about line voltage. When that thing is plugged in, I don't go anywhere near the back side, and I have no cause to. But if it were a mobile device instead of permanently mounted, I would enclose it.

    • Ford Anglia / about 11 years ago / 1

      The variac (variable autotransformer) does not provide isolation. How did I know? My first soldering iron no longer has a tip... While a variac is a great tool for 'bringing up circuits' or checking tolerance to brown outs, add an isolation transformer down stream!! Then you can connect test equipment (scope probes and their grounds) safely to AC mains powered projects. A good idea if you're doing anything that involves commercial holiday light strings. Be safe!

  • syndicated / about 11 years ago * / 2

    Can you overlay it on one of those metal "slap bracelets" from the 80's?

    Embed plastic fiber-optic strands connected to RGB LEDs, controlled by a Nordic nRF51822 or similar. LiPo + inductive charging or a magnetic connector like Apple/Pebble use? Magnetic connector for programming, + rechargeable coin cell?

    Would also be cool to embed sensors in the band: Accelerometer, Pulse, Microphone, Temp.

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      I like this a lot, my concern is that the addition of the components would impede the flexibility enough that it wouldn't sit in a comfortable manner around your wrist.

      • syndicated / about 11 years ago / 1

        Definitely. That's why I was thinking plastic fibers to carry/transmit the light throughout the bracelet instead of dozens of SMD LEDs and solder etc. Keep the components and circuit elements on one side of the bracelet and use their polymer to encapsulate everything

  • Phlat_Broake / about 11 years ago / 2

    I think that a book that assisted kids and others to learn to read would be great. Power and speaker in the binding. movement of a finger along the page causes the book to read that particular word. capacitance sensing interleaved with pages from a real book. text loaded from an epub copy of same book to attempt to correlate finger location with words.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      Neat idea! Would you do this with a single sensor page after the last page in the book (would have to be able to sense through all the preceding pages), or would each page have to be "smart"? How would you sense which page the book is opened to? (These are the kinds of questions we'd ask anyone with a potential product. If you can come up with implementable answers, you're on your way!)

  • timothy1324 / about 11 years ago / 2

    Redesign a PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) for the fire departments by integrating the circuit to the inside of the firefighter's coat. The PASS device usually consists of an accelerometer to determine if the firefighter is still moving and an O2 sensor to detect the remaining level of oxygen in the firefighter's tank. Using flex potentiometers, you could integrate the inputs from the potentiometers and the accelerometer to minimize the false alarms caused by what the PASS device considers to be inactivity. Since the circuit would be mounted to the inside of the firefighter's coat, the components would be less exposed to water or heat.

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      Sounds cool, would there be benefit outside of the firefighting community or any development ability benefit?

      • timothy1324 / about 11 years ago / 1

        We could design flexible GPS tracking vests for search and rescue dogs, or just any other type of animal that someone would like to track.

  • Member #401698 / about 11 years ago / 2

    Flexible ecg sensors with wireless trancivers.

    • jon.whitten / about 11 years ago / 1

      What about an EKG controller that is compact using the flex circuit instead. The sensors don't need to be smart, but for convenience, the controller needs to be lightweight and thin.

  • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago / 2

    Flexible perf board or smd prototyping boards!

    • I don't think you could do it with through hole-parts. I mean, you could do it, but the sizes of the parts would take a lot away from the flexibility of the material. It would have to be SMD to be useful, and rather general to appeal to enough people to make it worth making. Not sure what that would look like.

  • R0B0T1CS / about 11 years ago * / 2

    Flex ckt idea: I'd like to see a new sensor solution for reliably determining finger joint angle. Perhaps a magnet + flux sensor at either end of the bend. field strength would vary with angle while distance is ~ maintained by the flex ckt.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 2

      That's an interesting idea. Since Spectra is already good at making flex sensors, maybe what you need is a zoned flex sensor, so rather than measuring the total bend, you can see what the joints are doing locally?

      • ElegantElectrons / about 11 years ago / 1

        Zoned flex sensor. I really like that idea.

        Waiiiit a minute, you can't win.

  • Personally I would design a 15 or 20 element 2.4GHz Yagi pattern on the plastic film. That way you could have a flexible strip antenna for extending the range of wifi project up to a mile or more. The thin-film antenna could be attached to the side of the project's enclosure or to a window. I would use a design similar to this: PS, Actually, I have a second suggestion now. I've had projects that used a LCD shield plugged into an Arduino, where I needed to access some analog pins but couldn't because the display was up against a housing. Adding a flat, flexible conductive header between the shield and the Arduino would have been nice. You could make one for each of the four header sockets, and terminate them with the same header sockets so that the user could just solder in individual breakaway header pins as needed.

    • I dig the antenna idea... until you gotta get it FCC certified. And you could do the same thing with copper tape for less money, anyway. Though you may not get the measurements exact...

  • horack / about 11 years ago * / 2
    1. Variable width cup collar with temp sensor(s) that can warn you if cup is too hot/cold or just right.
    2. Bi-feedback Mood bracelet (also based on temp and maybe conductivity - truth bracelet ?) - with haptic vibration output to warn you if your stress level is going up. Oooh, maybe add pulse detector too. You can add infrared coms and bracelets can talk to each other, maybe notifies you of next person's mood being compatible with yours, or warning you you're making them tense. Now add Google Glass to this set up. All of the above can probably be made with conductive wire or even hand made harnesses but would definitely look cool if the entire circuit was flexible.
    3. Haven't looked at link but can circuit be made transparent or nicely translucent in various colors ?

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      Sounds more like a project than a product we could sell. Can you think of products these could be broken down into that might be useful outside of these purposes?

      • horack / about 11 years ago * / 1

        Actually, that's a good point. How about instead of a specific function bracelet, it starts as a an empty, comfortable to wear wide bracelet (muscle man style, don't know the term for these). Onto this base you can add various function wedge circuits curved to fit on the base and some kind of fastening system, maybe as simple as magnets and some type on inter-connectors between them. The bracelet base can also have some conductive smooth rivets that the wedges can hook up to. This way you can have the rivets double as conductors for example to sense skin resistance. Now you can have all kinds of special "super-hero power" wedges: displays, mp3 personal life soundtrack (plays soundtracks based on your movement and physical state), laser, wearable data logging IMU (or maybe the data logger is a separate module that other modules can log data to, if there's a spec'd protocol in place), the mood sensor with IR comms I mentioned in original example, and who knows what else. The IMU wedge can potentially activate other wedges based on gesture detection (i.e. the personal life soundtrack wedge). They can all interconnect with power and I2C connections so that they can talk to each other and share one power wedge (with 3.3. and 5V lines). This is similar to the Book of Circuits idea I submitted but it's a utility bracelet instead (or utility headband, if you dare wear it). Oh yeah, also have passive colorful wedges (or maybe cheap, passive LED lit) to fill in the empty spots until you populate them with active wedges.

    • horack / about 11 years ago / 1

      Of course I really meant Bio-feedback. What I wanted to add is that for the uber geek this can be a headband so you can wear your tech high and proud (besides, if the IR communications would get implemented, the extra height gives it better coverage). Extend some eye flaps downward and they can double as sunglasses (with small LEDs for notifications). That would be assuming the flexboard is UV opaque.

  • c30630 / about 11 years ago / 2

    Its not a single idea but make all your highest selling BOB's flex.

    • Pearce / about 11 years ago / 1

      Most of the big selling breakout boards are through hole based, can you think of any that might be beneficial in a more flexible configuration?

      • c30630 / about 11 years ago / 1

        Yeah I should have sorted by sales rate (nice!). I was thinking that for me most of my projects include a lcd,light sensor, some i2c stuff (temp sensors real time clock,led rgb controller) and then maybe some relay or motor or speaker and a mcu (picaxe). My breadboards always end up super messy and then I rip it all apart to build my next project. I could benefit from a flex line of products where all the pins are broken out on the same side and then I would have a breadboard that on both sides would have clothespin like connectors for the flex that would be connected to the breadboard strip of 4 or so holes inline for wire connections. I also have issues finding the perfect enclosures when I have a finished project so with the flex I can slide the board in and just make it fit. An adapter for through hole chips (14,20,40pin) to the flex would be nice to free up space on the breadboard.

  • A simple project, flexible arduino ( kind of) .. American Semiconductor is making flex ucontrollers. 8-bit RISC, i2c, UART, SPI... Great for wearable projects. I have more ideas but I'm on my honeymoon so ya.. I shouldn't even be here posting :)

  • tz / about 11 years ago / 1

    I was thinking ATtiny45 since it has more space, but there's using an ATtiny10! Same general idea.

  • tz / about 11 years ago / 1

    For the ATtiny45 + NeoPixel (I can't find an equivalent here with the smarts inside), there are a lot of things you could do with a strip beyond showing sensors.

    You could add something like an IR receiver or some kind of RF or magnetic communication so you can program it to show whatever from a distance. Perhaps even NFC. Or find a small clock chip.

    PoV is another possibility. Or feedback with bend sensors in a glove.

    I'm not sure if you could do a prototyping area or just leave space for sensors or have different versions, but the basic idea is you have a smart RGB strip (it might be 2 or 3 wide as well), and something it can use to put data on the display.

  • tz / about 11 years ago / 1

    A neo-pixel ring. Start with an ATtiny45 (in the smallest packaging), batteries to get to about 5 volts, 1-5 of the adafruit neopixels, and add a sensor like accelerometer, gyro, barometer/temp and maybe a switch if the sensor can't be used for a wakeup. You can use RETMA colors or just have it work like a compass.

    There is an ATtinyX5 neopixel library, and I've done a bitbang I2C library.

    If preferable, a bracelet or thin band. Or even inside a straw something like a magic wand.

  • mikep / about 11 years ago / 1

    Also just give me some standard width tape with adhesive backing and 4 traces running the length. Would buy instantly

  • mikep / about 11 years ago / 1

    So my idea is a slightly larger system and the flexible circuit is just a central part. Basically change the ease with which wearable LED garments are fabbed. There are RGB LEDs on the market today that are a digital three wire system with a constant current driver internal to the LED. So make some standard tape widths (2",4", 6" etc) with groupings of three traces running the length (10m or longer) basically as many trace groups as can fit easily. Here is where the improvements start.

    Create a online tool to order custom patterns of the tape. Example: 1 LED every 4"; offset 2" every row.

    Now use something akin to a CNC Vinyl cutter to split the signal traces under each LED before placing, and add perforations for increased flex depending on the users specs. Also cut holes (1/4") say every 1" to increase breathability.

    Now pic-n-place (or hand place) the LEDs based on the custom order.

    Use the Vinyl cutter to custom cut a top sheet out of a thin material or just vinyl based on the LED placement.

    Laminate these 2 layers with a third cotton or nylon backing cloth.

    The perforations should allow for added flex where you want it, the cover sheet and backing fabric add sturdiness, easy integration into garments and protection to the circuit. If the proper materials and adhesives are specced this could be a washable durable way to incorporate addressable LED's into garments.

  • Member #357026 / about 11 years ago / 1

    This seems good for projects that need to pack alot into alittle. An Atmega 328 with a RN-42 module with this circuit you could do alot in its small size with flex capabilities. Haven't seen anything like that out.. You might be able to pull off putting the circuit on your body without looking foolish. Can these circuits interconnect? A cool kit with a Raspi will always win. I'd probably make the ultimate RPi case myself and add some useful things they left out. Like a Teched out Armor, but still compact. Anyways.

  • WarpedHumor / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about using the flex circuit to make a really cool music box. Instead of a ballerina popping up out of the box and a brass music roll. Insert a mp3 type player in the bottom of the box (with speaker) and use the flex circuit to connect to the top where you put a color graphic display for photos. Music boxes are not too hard of a wood working project should be able to find some on to laser cut the box.....


  • BalashiFan5 / about 11 years ago * / 1

    how about a sticker boards? Something with ATiny and others with LEDs and the such. Then you could use copper tape or conductive paint to make your circuits.

    EDIT: Sorry I guess this idea has already come to fruition: Circuit Stickers

  • JHuber / about 11 years ago / 1

    Pinwheels with lights and a microcontroller. One model would just have lights that would randomly turn on when the pinwheel turned. Another would be a POV that would use a gyro to measure the spinning speed and then light up accordingly.

    There are a couple technical challenges: 1. Is the material too heavy to spin? 2. How do you power the circuit? etc. I know my kids would love a product like this I would love a product like this.

  • Member #27199 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Not sure if this was already posted already (A lot to read). Maybe looking at an interface of some kind where the user may apply it to a curved surface.

    If what you are holding in hand is to be used in the design then it depends on what that soic-8 can do. Am thinking a touch controller that reports to a master via i2c or spi. The coin cells can power the entire system (if it does not have any power hungry parts). The problem is that we do not know what the (round looking part) is.

    Another idea could be a control system for (anything) that can be fixed to the inside of a cap (hat). As i said it depends.

    I we can suggest an actual design then one could look at small data terminal (something to get people interested in doing more than just buttons and switched)., one that has a sort of hinge. you could use one of the displays that you sell and make the keypad from a pcb similar to the simon, or even they could make a flex keypad that can be placed on a plastic surface (the inner side of the clam shell.

    Something entry level (no need to be complex-ed) but something that does a bit more than the occasional arduino. You could even power it by a Pi so you get some real punch out of it and maybe use one of the psp lcd's (Can the flex wires handle that high bandwidth?) Maybe you could use a mall breakout board on top of the section that connects to the LCD so you dont have to do any fine pith soldering on it and the actual spots on the flex could be say (2mm apart each). something like that.

  • AimNixBot / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about Transferring the LilyPad MP3 PCB to Flex. I can hardly imagine a Place in / on a Shirt or Hoodie were a rigid disk, with a Diameter of nearly 7 cm, could be placed without bother the Wearer.

    I know the PCB has more Layers, but with its flexibility it should be doable, maybe with a bigger Surface-area or modular... Maybe even as a Hybrid (more Mashup) PCB / FLEX.

    Greetings from Bavaria. P.S.: English is not my native language.

  • Grizzly / about 11 years ago / 1

    I think one of the best uses for a flexible circuit design is anywhere a cable wire track is used. For example, the wire that tracks along one of the axis of any CNC product. It would be really cool if the flex sensor could carry power and instead of supplying limit switches to limit the travel, like current CNC machines, that you could read the value of the flex sensor to determine when to stop that axis. It appears you could use this to replace both the cable and the wire track and possibly the limit switches. Possibly sell the product by the foot.

  • i8RM250 / about 11 years ago / 1

    what about a Chinese fan that opens up with LEDs that blink or change color depending on how fast you flap it? of coarse folds up.maybe even flashes the temperature as well.

  • neko5tail / about 11 years ago / 1

    Something that has right angle headers on each side but easily flexes to plug into a stacked configuration like a shield. I thought about this because of the teensy and seen your offset arduino pin headers. I don't want to not be forced to decide how to set things up on a circuit's layout to plug into other things. It would be cool to just flex headers at the angle needed or in any other way these flex circuits can do so. Maybe make an arduino clone or shield in a fractal pattern so it can bend any area any which way you need it for hooking up into other devices (I imagine i2c). One mental image is arduino shields stacking like viruses rather than a big sandwich. If nothing else an arduino made out into a spiral fractal pattern could be folded up a ball that would fit in a small pocket or a toy capsule like those Japanese Gashapon. If you do that maybe make the connectors sturdy (JST?) and/or playful like littlebits. Also, just making a flexible board means I could throw these in tubing with other stuff. Break the traditional place boards in a box and then worry about the box in my overall project shape routine!

  • tails / about 11 years ago / 1

    I couldn't tell in the video but how flat is this stuff? I would be cool if you could make some ultra flat ribbon cables.

  • Motivation: I like to wake up earlier than my wife, but I don't want to wake her up, so I wish I had vibrating wrist band. Solution: I'd use these flexible circuits to make a wristband that has an XBee socket and one of the smaller Arduinos on board, one of those two-pin LiPo sockets and a prototyping area so I can sew in a vibe board, or a grid of LEDs, or an RGB grid, or a piezo speaker, or pulse sensor, or ... I'd make the ends use hook-and-loop closure so this could fit any size wrist, and be trimmed shorter for smaller wrists. If this wrist band had a thin layer that velcro'd over the top, like some watches do, I could keep the XBee and Arduino from catching on my clothing.

  • Member #298170 / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about some further development of the muscle sensor kit with the flex PCB's? Like small bracelets or pads, with sensing components and sense pad integrated fully into a single flex board. And some form of wireless chip on, like the NRF2401A, and they all form some sort for small area network, with a master unit, like a smartphone or something. My idea is to have several of these on your body, and then connect them to an Iron Man suit (not included in the kit), and then save the world from badguys => profit!

  • haseo / about 11 years ago / 1

    I'd make a flexible strip with a 3-axis gyroscope or accelerometer and related components mounted in the middle. Intended to be worn around the wrist, or mounted to an other sort of movable object (using velcro to join the two ends together). Electrical connections along one long edge, maybe contact pads that could be used with alligator clips/tack soldered wires/plugs of some sort. Anyway connection should be designed so it can be sealed with epoxy to make water proof.

    The MPU-6050 seems ideal as it's small, cheap and includes both gyroscope and accelerometer. Plus it has a I2C bus so multiple ones can be chained together.

    If you collect enough of them, you can make your own motion capture suit. Hence reasons for not using ZIF connectors (would fall off) and requirement to seal connections.

  • i8RM250 / about 11 years ago / 1

    The flexibility of the material is the key but does it have to be in operation being flexed to count? I was thinking the flexibility is nice for storage then run-time. So what if a kite or part of a kite was made with this material that you could fly that had temp, humidity, pressure and gps and sd card to data log weather at certain heights? Some LEDs could be added to fly at night and you would be able to see the edges of the kite.

  • BFisch1983 / about 11 years ago / 1

    It doesn't sound like this flex circuit is made for repeated flex, but if it can handle it. Imaging a cloth trivet/hot pad with an LED aray coming out of one side and an array of magnets on the other to make a flexible flash light type device. I would love to wrap one around my drivetrain, or similar surface, while working under my car. Having a single point source light that points in one direction leads to a lot of shadows under a car, and I constantly have to try and move/adjust the light. Finding a good battery could be the hard part. You could use a couple small lipos together, to retain flexibility. You could also sell just the inside LED board. Use RGB leds and people could wrap them in lamps shades or anywhere they want for a more artistic application. This would be nice because you could use some I2C IO expanders on the flex circuit, so someone only has to connect 4 wires from what ever they want to use to drive the pad. If it is possible the user to desolder/solder parts, you could have pullups/downs on the expander address lines to allow someone to pick addresses and daisy chain several of the light pads together.

  • Member #317608 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Flexible keyboard. Use capactive plates, or spectra symbol's force sensitive resistors. That way, there would be no non-flexible components. The keyboard could then be stuck to non-traditional or non-flat surfaces to act as an input device. As some others have mentioned, one idea could be a wristwatch with buttons all around it. A soft pot could also be used. Slide your finger around your watch to activate different functions or adjust the time. For something that could be used in a variety of projects, I would suggest a flexible version of the capacitive number pad.

  • BFisch1983 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A small strip with a USB A male connector and a USB micro B male connector would be nice. It might not have mass appeal, but it would allow me to easily 3D print a cradle that will hold my phone and my backup battery together. It would keep people from having to cut up USB cables and soldering them back together. It would be even nicer because it could have some mounting holes or slots in the flex board so the whole thing would be sturdier. Trying to hold a phone in your hand and something like this in your hand or pocket is cumbersome

  • rwinscot / about 11 years ago / 1

    JST battery connectors are good... but flexible magnetic ones that can safely* be added to some of the smaller lipos would be nice. Hit-up the link for an example in micro / Uberlite RC airplanes.

    The transition between the battery tabs and the connector don't last very long... and the method that they use to attach the magnets (read: heat) greatly reduces their potential. A flexible solution that is friendly to adhesives on the magnet side that can be either clipped or soldered onto the tabs would provide added and essential strain relief.

    Oh... and the polarity of the magnets is matched to VCC/GND.

  • Funhough / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about printing a circuit on a balloon? Flexible and new thinking about design as the circuit is growing and expanding while inflating it. You could make small blimps in notime with small motors and RF. Hmm... I wonder if you could use conductive paint? Have anybody tried? LED-Balloons instead of LED throwies...?

  • mite51 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A light up shoe kit. Basically a small ribbon of SMT leds that can wrap around a shoe with a small pack that can fit somewhere with a microprocessor and coin cell.

  • Optimax / about 11 years ago / 1

    Someone beat me too it... I came up with stickers that have simple circuits or a single component (momentary switches, LEDs, battery holders, op amps, etc.) that you can stick and stack to anything. Connections are made by laying a sticker so the solder points overlap another sticker's points. You could put navigation lights on a paper airplane or stick head lights to a Tonka truck; make a postcard that holds the stickers, peel them off, fold it into a mini ghetto blaster and and stick the speakers and components to it to make it work. Stick a keyboard to a coffee table or on a book. Stick a touch sensor to a chair bottom and make stealthy whoopee cushion. "Booby-trap" a book, a kitchen cabinet or a laptop with a magnetic switch that sets off and alarm or lights...

    Or, to modify the idea slightly, make them refrigerator/car magnets.

  • zipeto / about 11 years ago / 1

    I would make a line of circuits that could be mounted on paper, posters, and cards(maybe a peel and stick back), since the circuit is so light. An example would be to press a button to put on lights or make a sound play. At my school, some of the kids in my grade are running for student council. Most of the signs are ordinary, and say things like "vote for me", or "I'm the clear choice", but with a product like this, things could be "spiced up" a little by maybe having a button on the poster that says "tap me", then when the button is pressed, there could be some lights that go on and maybe even a sound could play. You could make a custom birthday card, or have a small activity on a piece of paper, think of all the possibilities.

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible thing that you could put on safety glasses with LEDS to light up your soldering project

    • I can think of so many hands-on projects that having in-glass LEDs to illuminate would be helpful. Great idea!

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible breadboard

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible LCD

  • TheRegnirps / about 11 years ago / 1

    Amateur rocketry uses boards that are either disks that fit the pipe shaped rocket sections or rectangular boards that take up the center of the tube. I'm thinking why not wrap the circuits around the inside of the tube leaving most of the space still clear for payload.

  • ernesto279 / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a flexible breakout board for a small camera like this, it could be use in projects like homemade Google glass. where keeping a small footprint is important. The camera would be attached at the corner of the lenses, and the main circuit could be attached to the temples. Or any project where keeping the footprint of the camera at minimum is important.

  • Billbo911 / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a steering wheel cover that can be used to help train student drives learn to keep their hand at "10 and 2" (or "9 and 3" if you are of that persuasion). Touch sensors could be placed at the desired hand positions. A pizio speaker would chirp when the driver is out of position for more than a few seconds. This allows for setting of the turn blinkers or turning lights on etc. An accelerometer could sense when the wheel is beyond a certain number of degrees from center and would then allow the hands to be shifted for turning corners etc. without the alarm sounding. The accelerometer could also be used to monitor acceleration and deceleration rates for "feedback" purposes after the driving period was completed.

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    maybe a bendable 9 degrees of freedom sensor

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Maybe a bendable camera circuit.

  • Member #435690 / about 11 years ago / 1

    distance sensor that could bend, like around the front of a robot.

  • Member #66358 / about 11 years ago * / 1

    Human wellness on the planet is what this is all about. Small, one-piece, portable, mind-hacking is on the way with light, sound, and appropriate audio for weight-loss, improving sleep patterns, ending phobias, smoking cessation, and elimination of depression, etc. Have a working prototype that now needs flexibility for comfort. Uses Sparkfun components, and has complete Eagle files. Low BOM, big potential to make a difference in the world with the right partner.

  • Funhough / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about that phone from " Total Recall"?... No,ok... How about a forearm, wristband? With built in slider, some buttons- Armduino? OpenLog...For biometric use. Hey, I could even use the old IPhone armband for the battery (sensor storage? Deluxe pack..). Solarpower? Flexibel? 3 axis accelerometer standard today... Tron like traces?- Read EL-technology. Make it look good. Dust and waterproof, check!

    Shipping date?

  • JWC in NH / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible matrix of sensors for locating where a ball hits a bat or a ball hits a golf club head. Measures relative force, accelerometer for head speed. Helps someone get closer to the sweet spot and swing faster. The sensors would need to be covered in a protective rubber material to extend life. GUI could be a 4D display for instant feedback. Heck, add xbees and make it wireless.

  • Hmmm, has anyone mentioned the old trick of using a speaker to make a laser pointer scan in one or two dimensions (two speakers for 2d)? Could make displays, oscilloscopes, whatever, the flexible nature of it would allow even stuff like standing wave patterns, lissajous, like wow man laser light show! Let's all go back to 1982 and get messed up at the planetarium man...p.s. could make a flexi panel mounted on your speakerless elements with lens or mirror on it to reflect sunlight or laser light or whatever. Or make a disco ball that vibrates.

  • WarpedHumor / about 11 years ago / 1

    how about a circuit for model rockets - you could put in a cpu, accelerometer, micro-sd, power source, - the circuit would "rolled" up to fit the internal diameter of the rocket body - it would then record flight parameters, how fast, how high, decent time.... If you wanted to get "fancy" you could put an LED or two to blink out the max altitude. There is a resurgence (sp??) in the model rocket world thanks to all the STEM work - it could be sold as an extension of existing STEM rocket courses, and intoduce embeded systems and microcontrol.


  • fub / about 11 years ago / 1

    I need a "1-bit" bend sensor that opens or closes a switch when it bends smaller than a certain radius. That would really be something not possible with a rigid board and it could feed into many applications. Extra points if I can put these in chain mode like the WS2811 smart LEDs, so I know which sensor(s) got triggered, a tiny microcontroller like PIC10F could probably do it, and make it so you could sew or stick it onto a flexible surface. My application is flexible robotics and wearables, anything with a bendable surface. Video here with surface-mount switches: I want to read lots and LOTS of open/closed bend switches.

  • BBB / about 11 years ago / 1

    Is it just me or you finding that the video stalls at 7:13? Happens in the same spot every time I try to play this.

  • bildr.josh() / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible led panel that has magnets on the corners used as conductors as well as connectors so you can stack them and make things out of them. Kind of like an electronic version of the Bucky balls!

  • Rogueatog / about 11 years ago / 1

    I would like to see this circuit built into a hat! You could make several useful add-ons like small WiFi speakers for running, displays on the outside (to be cool, ya know?), bill lights controlled by your smartphone (or buttons) and maybe even interface with google glass somehow when it comes out (lights up when you take a picture?). You could put the power supply and charging port somewhere that doesn't bend but the flexibility of the circuit would be perfect for a hat that bends a lot but retains it's general shape.

  • let me think of one / about 11 years ago / 1

    Flexible Arduino board. A roll up and stick in pocket Arduino would be neat.

  • Member #401698 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Flexible sticky SMD pattern tape or a roll up portable power supply

  • Nolan2 / about 11 years ago / 1

    I noticed on Spectra's site that they can create membrane switches with these boards so why not create a flexible and modular keypad interface. One module could connect to the next using shift registers over spi or i2c and it could be used to create custom computer keyboards, midi controllers, remotes, etc. and could be used on irregular surfaces or be rolled up for storage. The buttons could even be made to be back-lit with EL or fiber optic panels like shown on their site here for visibility at night.

  • Canoeman / about 11 years ago * / 1

    Use the flex circuit to act as sealed pathway for bicycle handlebar mounted circuitry, so the flex pressure sensors could be used to monitor the position of the handlebars. Use the flex sensors to work with fish tank floats, sensors. Use the flex sensors circuitry to measure or connect sensors or circuits on flexible robot or quad copter landing gear. Use flexcircuits to monitor dogs or animals movement of limbs, head etc. Use flex circuits and sensors to work with underwater, snake like uav. So as the snake bot undulates to ambulate, it motion can be measured, and powered. Use flexi circuits and sensors to measure or control elevation rotors, for antennas. Use flexicircuits to control lighting and items, when you sit on a bed to go to sleep, between sheets or matteress. Monitor sleeping habits and positioning. Pressure sensor circuits to open dog door to yard, when dog gets up from dog bed, and starts walking around, an sniffing. Using flexi circuits to monitor hallway or room lighting, under carpet. Use flexicircuits to measure bicycle brake pressure, to change brake light flashing, to steady. Use flexi circuits or sensors to measure wind pressure or rain depth by weight. Whew, what do you think? Use flexicircut to detect opening of purse, set off alarm, turn on in purse el wire light, set of wirless alarm when bag strap flexed or picked up. Detect opening purse and turn on light on key ring, to find keys in purse with tiny wireless transmitter, and pressure sensors. Flexy sensor to detect wallet opening, set off alarm, el wire light. Headlamp on glasses, sensors turn on small light on glasses bridge, when glasses arms unfolded. Driving alert, pressure sensors on steering wheel, tomdetect hands falling from wheel to detect driver drifting off. Flexi sensor, measuring position of neck, head to detect driver falling asleep. Flexi sensor to measure flexing hand, like making a fist, or pointing finger, to turn on lights on finger tip, or wrist, like an automatic led flashlight. Use flexi sensors in glove to act as game controller or mouse.


  • Member #276380 / about 11 years ago / 1

    What about a flexible sensor circuit, you could make them with different sensors, they would be small and save on space. Being flexible they could be used in places that normal stiff boards could not be used. You could make them similar to your break out boards.

  • Ben19 / about 11 years ago / 1

    These circuits have a lot of potential due to their transparency. In my opinion, the transparent quality is far more useful than the flexibility (let's face it, as Pete mentions in the video, wearable applications are kind of pointless since most components could be connected using thin wire just as easily).

    Here's the idea: make educational circuit transparencies. With (semi) transparent circuits, you could more easily use them in the classroom (e.g., for projection), or couple them with some basic software to overlay a circuit transparency on top of a standard computer screen (connected to the computer via serial/USB), allowing the learner to play with various inputs in the software, while seeing the result being run on the circuit - overlaid on the same screen. What this does is close the loop between virtual or diagram-based electronics education and hands-on experimentation, making it easier to grasp and see real-world results.

    Initially, the circuits could be extremely basic (simple output using a couple LEDs), but they could get more complex with logic gates, transistors, etc.

  • Ben121 / about 11 years ago / 1

    There is a common thread. I would build a wrist length arduino with bluetooth, accel, and rgb leds - bt optional for cost. This would allow a platform for wearable input and output with internet access via phone bluetooth, personal pov, hackable con tickets, etc... also useful for small uav/quads with optional gyro, pen electronics, and similar wearable circuits. The real value is a companion suite of popular BOB boards in compatible footprint (Direct board to board soldering for minimal thickness, common I2C bus etc...).

  • Pokey / about 11 years ago / 1

    You could make extenders for displays (or anything else) using FFC.

    But that's a little boring. The Spectra Symbol site mentions EL-lit membrane switches being an option as they can screen print the EL material over switches. Why not a thin film keypad or strip of keys, like a flexible Monome? Or see if they could integrate EL material with their existing Softpot sensors. Bonus if the EL can be segmented so that the strip can be lit up somewhat in proportion to the pot setting or act as a VU meter. Extra bonus for integrating the EL driver on the flex PCB.

  • XLCior / about 11 years ago / 1

    DigiFlex: A small band (3/4" x 3") with a minimal controller (attiny85) + minimal power regulation. It would have a "usb" interface at one end (think digispark, but out of flex PCB) so that it could be jammed directly into a USB port for programming. At the other end would be some sort of simple flex connector so that "shields" could be added. Presumably these shields would pass thru the pins not used. An assortment of add-on "shields" would be available, e.g. neopixels, battery (coin or lipo), sensors, small actuators (piezo buzzer). Even cooler would be an antenna + rf shield for proximity sensors of various sorts.

    The beauty of such a solution is that many of the below ideas could be implemented with these base components. For myself, I see a number of applications where such a band could be added under the hat band of a baseball cap, e.g. to monitor for concussions, overheating, proximity to other players or the edge of the playing field (virtual warning track). With wireless, you could allow a coach to call pitches / plays directly with the buzzer, ...

  • nicoM / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a flat breadboard usb that connects to your computer. It could somehow kinda stick to the side of your "Pointing Device"? from the USB, it could get 5V, maybe put a step-up regulator in it so you can get 12V and lots of 'holes' on the plastic that lead you to the connections. some of these 'holes' would be VCC and GND, the other ones would be open for breadbording. The "through-hole" components would be inserted at an angle, and the smd could just be set there. Maybe put some standard Land Patterns connected to open holes. To show it is working, it could have an smd led that turns on when powered.

  • A wrist watch you can button to your wrist, possibly effectively closing a circuit(main power, LEDs On/Off, etc...). The wrist watch could use a few 7 segment displays or a small LCD to display simple numeric values or flash whole sentences. Sensors could be tied into the device as well, such as, temperature(ambient or skin), humidity, air pressure (elevation), or even simple voltmeter/current meter (maybe < 100v/1A) functionality with small clip on connectors for probes. Something like this could even be powered by small Peltier devices (thermometric generator) or a small solar panel. Didn't read any of the other ideas so I hope this one isn't a ditto!

  • Member #286247 / about 11 years ago / 1

    I would like to see a robot wheel with flexible circuitry around the outside of the wheel so the pressure sensors mounted every few cm can give feedback of what the terrain is like below the wheel (smooth, rocky, wet, flat tire). It could also indicate more than 1 pressure point where the wheel is on the ground and hitting something vertical. This may require RF circuitry to transmit data back to the main board.

  • Steven Osborn / about 11 years ago / 1

    LED array with microcontroller that fits inside a cup that is made for a paper insert.

  • DrPhibes / about 11 years ago / 1

    I've always wanted to make a GPS data logger for a cat to track where they go. You could make data collecting harnesses for wildlife management of smaller species.

  • I'd like an exercise oriented music player that I can stick to my skin, or at least wrap around my neck and clip. I can never get the headphone wires to run through my shirt correctly and my sweat seems to kill my music player every six months. If I had a flexible music player that I could wrap around my neck and clip or hook together, my life would be easier.

  • AdrianS / about 11 years ago / 1

    I'd combine these flexible circuits with removable decals* so that you could stick circuits on windows and walls.

    A small Arduino compatible micro, two exposed pads for alligator clips to provide power**, lots of LEDs and capacitive touch and there's your interactive window display... sparkling SparkFun with integrated Larson Scanner anyone? Given the transparency of those circuits, you could even do transparent / partially transparent designs.

    *"static window clings" seems to be the trade term, that "static" makes me wonder how well that will work with circuits though.. ** Or use flexible solar cells (are those real?) and you don't even need a battery or external power supply

  • PoorCoco / about 11 years ago / 1

    You could do a joint venture with Colorado model-aerospace heroes Apogee Components to make flexible electronic payloads for model rockets. The small body tube diameters in low-power rocketry are a severe limit to the payloads, especially for a hobbyist. But if you could get a reasonably cheap, lightweight, flexible instrumentation package (accel/gyro, barometric, maybe a photocell mounted on the rocket (for roll rate), flash storage, and an expandable bus to instrument a rocket to any desired level. You could add GPS, INS, magnetometers, cameras, physics payloads, servos or solenoids (to activate experiments), triggering air-start motors… you, of course, have a good idea of the possibilities there.

    I suggest you talk to Tim Van Milligan, head honcho at Apogee, and see what he thinks of developing a rocketry avionics set. He is a bona fide NASA rocket scientist, and he loves reaching out to the public, so I would guess he’d back it with enthusiasm — especially if it gives him a new, unique product line too.

  • MetabolicCloth / about 11 years ago * / 1

    E-Textiles clearly comes to mind. it would be cool to have a flexible LilyPad. this would make it easier to embed into clothing that flexes a lot or hugs the body.

    a new flexible controller for E-Textiles, like the one you have but flexible. i dont know the limitations of the material but if its possible the controller using capacitive touch sensing so no physical buttons would be used.

    A flexible RFID controller board or antenna to allow more versatility in placement of the antenna.

  • Dom2 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Arduino style (easy programming and onboard power regulation etc) prototyping board based around the MSP 430 from TI. Low power, small, and flexible would be a killer combo.

  • D_C / about 11 years ago / 1

    sensors around your wrist or ankles to measure body movement (bracelet as a bonus)

  • D_C / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a more general press sensor such as one that can say be under someones foot and a way for the sensor to do multiple things such as light an led when it senses pressure, also maybe add a way someone can connect their own micro-controller up to it and basically sense when it is pressed so they can do what they want.

  • Member #382389 / about 11 years ago / 1

    that would be great for rc airplanes.or even motorized paper airplanes with rc....

    you could coil it up and run it in a bicycle fram for lights and stuff...also it would work well in bicycle helmets.

    you could make bbq digital thermal control unit. you could embed that stuff in plastic water bottles.(better to have a led display than a paper label)

    you could make sensors for diving fins and log there effectiveness

    dam you could use that stuff just about anywhere....

    use it in kites of all kinds.

    put it in your ball cap

    digital frige magnets

    digital best before labelson consumer products (that can be read)

    business cards...

    spread some graphine on it and use it for hydro wires....

  • crashfrog / about 11 years ago / 1

    I've been toying with the idea of a POV globe, and I think flexible circuits are the way to go: a hoop of individual RGB LEDs, like on some of the LED strips you guys sell, but more LEDs per inch, then the whole thing spins on a rotor. Put the microcontroller on the rotor and then you only need two commutators for power and ground. But, maybe you want to keep your fingers out of it...

  • I would make a capacitive QWERTY keyboard layout, with a small pad for each key. Something that could be unrolled onto any surface and used as a keyboard (or number keypad). Since the material is not only flexible, but clear as well, you could glue an EL panel to the back of it, and have a flexible, super-thin, backlit keyboard! Reminds me of Tony Stark's keyboard. Or, you could stick this capacitive keyboard/keypad to a glass surface (eg. coffee table, car window) for a touch-sensitive overlay.

    Now that I think about it, capacitive touch sensing can be touchy, so in the spirit of spectra symbol, you could use the same materials that are inside the softpots, for resistance-based sensing instead.

    Also, krdarrah1234 has already mentioned a shoe insert, which was one of the first things that came to mind. Check out the Adidas Megalizer shoes (I'm not usually an e-textile guy, but this stuff is pretty cool):

  • mite51 / about 11 years ago / 1

    -How about a Ardupilot clone so the circuit can fit into any size platform that it can be squished into. It could also act as a dampener for the sensors. -An MP3 player that's just the headphones, all the guts put into the headband. I don't like the wires -A benduino, just because. -A persistence of vision skip rope. -An LED matrix that you could stick on your shirt or other places.

  • tlinden / about 11 years ago / 1

    I kind of like the idea of making something like the Simon Says to learn how to do surface mount soldering on the flex circuit. It would be nice to have a way to learn the limitations of soldering on this stuff and how much flexing it can do with parts on it. If you could find some sort of plastic dome shape you could use some double stick tape to stick it to that for fun.

  • A flexable screen or dot matrix display was what came to my mind first. Then I saw it came to 610bob's mind as well. In the mean time I have three ideas, arranged from my favorite to my mostest superest favorite.

    a flexible jumper that can be used to easily jump high stress points when working with EL wire such as the elbows, Shoulders, knees, etc. Yes this can be done with wire, but there has the be an easier way than all that copper tape, multi-layer stripping, and soldering business.

    I'm wondering if you could pull off a flexible Arduino Pro? it might be hard because of the multiple layers and skinny traces, but the end product would be great for things that bend (like cloths, hinges, rubber) or uneven surfaces (the corner of a wall, hat rack, basket, cooking pot, plant pot). Not to mention it would look super cool to see all the traces through that clear plasticy stuff.

    Also, a small, flat, flexible digital clock would be cool. It could have magnets to be used in unison with other magnets (or just used alone) to be attached through cloths, onto a metal filing cabinet, onto a fridge or other metal-that-attracts-magnets. It could also have something like suction cup tape to attach it to smooth and flat (or smooth and curvy) objects. It could be used I'm thinking it could be used on things like those puffy coats where a normal watch on the outside of a coat or glove sort of grips the wrist and cuts off circulation. The magnets would solve this problem. It could be stuck to something metal, or smooth, taking advantage of space that isn't used at a workstation without taking up space that needs to be saved for that enormous spectrum analyzer. If it was made water proof (or resistant, I'm not sure which applies in this situation) it could be used in a shower or bathroom. If the magnets are removed it could be attached to a computer screen (Although it is beyond me why anybody would attach it to their computer screen.) It could be attached to a yoga mat, the inside of a tent, a mirror, a framed picture, curtains etc. Anyway, it's just an idea. Chances are the flexible dot matrix is going to win. Even though this is already full color, flexible dot matrix screen just waiting to happen (and I'm going to make it happen, come October). Think about it. Reading all the other ideas I see there are a bunch of really cool ones. In particular the children's book and the circuit put together with staples. That circuit with staples idea man... that's... that's brilliant! It's like snap circuits but cooler.

  • flummer / about 11 years ago / 1

    I think it could be cool to make a ball, by shaping the flexible circuit like the old globe maps that has been flattened with long curved triangles in top and bottom (I don't know the exact name of that type of maps). When folded up it creates a complete sphere and all the "north pole" tips could be connected with a screw or similar going to + on a AA or similar battery, the "south pole" tips could connect up to - on the battery.

    With a controller (Arduino, small ARM or similar), some sensors (e.g. an accelerometer) and a slew of individually adressable LEDs + maybe a buzzer, you would have a fun toy that could light up based on motion or position, maybe with animations as part of games. With a wireless module multiple balls could be part of a single game.

  • Ford Anglia / about 11 years ago / 1

    Electronic Candy Canes!! White and Red LEDs. A micro. Random animation! Attachment to a 'hook' or 'cane' shaped acrylic plastic strip. Easily hangs on your Holiday tree, or at your "home away from home" in Cubicle Land! USB powered. Start now, Christmas 2013 is closer than your think!!

  • NXP_Peter / about 11 years ago / 1

    Kinetic Art or Toy, possibly interactive, where the exposed structure requires a flex circuit. Curilinear rather than flat or orthogonal? Hinged or folded? An accessory or whimsical add-on for a music player or smartphone? Perhaps reacting to the audio signals with LEDs. (Thinking COM-10468 + micro)?

  • Raighteye / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a iron-on RFID Tag, Or an card game using RFID Tag cards. you can make them all look different by using the circuit design.

  • Raighteye / about 11 years ago / 1

    how about a paper-plane or Frisbee design? With accelerometers and led's and buzzers.

  • Ezman / about 11 years ago / 1

    Flexible strip in your shoe with piezo wafers implemented into the places that absorb the most force. Use some type of nifty cuff-shaped regulator circuit that wraps inside of the collar to get it down to a usable voltage. You know, to charge an ipod or somethin'. There might be trouble coming up with enough current, though.

  • dawsonc / about 11 years ago / 1

    For e-textiles, where having some sort of slidepot or other large input would be too unwieldy, it would be cool to use one of their softpots coupled with an LED bar-graph and controller that remembers the last value of the softpot and sets the bar graph accordingly, effectively replicating a slide potentiometer in a flexible form. In addition to setting the LEDs to show the value of the input, you could read the last value from the sensor as an analog value. One place I can see this being used is on some sort of control panel for a wearable project (like a volume slider on the sleeve, or adjusting the brightness of LEDs, etc.)

  • Pinkerton / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flex circuit (with a 32u4 and some led's and maybe some male usb pad) sandwiched between 2 pieces of cardstock = A fancy E-Business Card

  • GregFR / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about arduino compatible paper products, like a greeting card with a built in arduino that can be used with conductive paint to create cool animated greeting cards or posters etc... The flexible circuits would be a good lightweight way to attach some electronics to such projects.

  • wilafau / about 11 years ago / 1

    A geo-logger. Combine an openlog & gps (GPS-11571) w/ some button cells or small lipo into a strip that can be integrated into a dog/cat collar or a bracelet. It would be a lot of fun to find out where the cat goes all night. It would be convenient in a bracelet format when cycling or hiking to keep a record of your route. Include a 6DOF sensor and it could monitor your golf swing.

  • WonderSlug / about 11 years ago / 1

    First thing that comes to mind is flexable controls and feedback for a grip based remote. Steering wheel, bicycle grips, motorcycle grips with feedback available right there. Possible for remote controls, bluetooth control for audio etc. Or for a GoPro type remote. Embedded in a grip with flexible contact pads and feedback (leds etc) right there.

    It would also make good integrated dog collar components. light up at night or remote commands (recordings of your voice saying commands activated via remote) or GPS. It combines the e-textile part but allows for more of a waterproof type aspect as well. Possibly even a remote for the light up. (I have a black dog got to have a glow collar at night or she is lost in the shadows but its bulky.

    Flexible contact thermometer for babys and toddlers with graduated led for readouts or other readout mechanism (e-paper maybe)

  • Blueblast88 / about 11 years ago / 1

    flex simon kit? or flex-duino of some sort?

  • ElegantElectrons / about 11 years ago * / 1

    It's a shame that flexible e-paper (or oleds) hasn't hit mainstream enough to be hobby cheap. A flexible break-out for a flexible screen would be amazing.

    Oooo. How about a flexible capacitive touch matrix including the chip (without the screen of course). Something that you can embed into anything of any shape and allow a lot of different touch interactions..

  • AlexMay / about 11 years ago / 1

    Linear, individually-addressable RGB LED array. i2c, SPI, UART interface to on-board ATmega 328. Awesome if it had conductive sewing points for an external battery pack with the option to install snaps. Integrated microcontroller's A0-A5/A7 broken out for input (or alternate i2c bus communication). Form-factor, ~6-7 inches with ~12 LEDs to make a compelling, flexible display that can fit on the inside of a sleeve, down or across the inside of the front of a garment like a jacket or sweatshirt (the bonus is that the material will hide the display when not in active use but still transmit well enough to indicate).

  • kohlmann0 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Pip Boy ;) (maybe a Raspberry pi build on a flexible circuit with a display)

    • kohlmann0 / about 11 years ago / 1

      Throw in an EL backlight for the whole thing while you are at it.

  • 71M71 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A flexible solar panel with a flexible charging circuit that rolls ups and fits inside a ballpoint pen.

  • jma89 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A shield-shifter that can plug into an Arduino at one end and provides headers at the other end so a shield can be plugged in beside (and at an awkward angle to) the Arduino. A couple versions may be necessary to cover all the potential angles (well, at least two to cover all four sides) but if the headers aren't soldered at first then the final orientation can be decided by the customer.

    Taking this a step further you could replace the header side of the board with a prototyping area and a few buttons/LEDs to start. Perhaps offer an Arduino Pro Mini, Fio, LilyPad, or Wixel version as well for more mobile/wearable applications.

  • BranchofLight / about 11 years ago / 1

    Some sort of flexible speakers would be cool. That way it would allow you to decide the angle of sound. With some sort of motor, stepper or servo setup you could have the speaker bend from sensor input and make some really interesting effects.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      What technology would you use to implement the speaker itself? Magnetic? Piezo? And what would the flexible circuit bring to that?

  • MirithD / about 11 years ago / 1

    Why just one idea, create a flex-circuit line for wear-able circuits (Or at least something that could be sewn into or onto clothing without being so obvious.), Similar to grove line. Stuff like the 9-DOF Chip and a GPS unit, and other various sensors to start slimming and making easily-wearable circuits for augmented reality purposes.

  • jma89 / about 11 years ago / 1

    A telemetry sensor for rockets, including an accelerator, altitude sensor, temperature and humidity sensor, a small MPU, LiPo and an OpenLog. The flex is handy because it allows the sensor to be rolled up and put into a compact space (high-impact resistant nose cone?) while still having a lot of on-board capabilities. Perhaps the main MPU/battery/OpenLog module could have a couple headers to extend with additional (and optional) abilities like GPS and a cell module (or even an extra battery if such high-current devices are desired.)

  • crwper / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about a simple strip of coloured LEDs arranged like a VU meter? Could be very useful for any wearable "meter", since you ideally want the LEDs to have a fairly regular spacing--not easily achievable by sewing single LEDs in place.

  • Addidis / about 11 years ago / 1

    Origami robot. Making a cube out of it gives you the body, and mount points for things like head , arms, legs.

  • On-Board Lipoly low voltage alarm, flexibility would reduce size and maybe weight

  • gperco / about 11 years ago / 1

    Seems a common theme showing up is human-worn circuits. I've also been playing with this idea, trying to make a sort of Arduino-powered human sensor suite that sticks to any part of your body like a large bandage. The biggest problem I've had is attaching a hard circuit board to my body; it can get pretty uncomfortable when you actually try to move around with it. But the basic idea is to have a flexible circuit about the size of an Uno with any number of sensors. A 3-axis accelerometer/gyro can provide not only orientation info for a limb, but possibly things like phonomyography. A downward facing IR emitter/receiver pair can detect heartbeat. Even a pair of bare electrodes could be used to detect skin conductivity. Of course, there's always room for some blinky LEDs to make the wearer seem just a little more cyborg. This can be used both as an input method for a separate device (robot arm mimics your arm?) and as a simple data logger (stick one on your leg to show off just how intense that double black diamond was).

    TLDR; Arduino sensor suite aimed at using humans as input devices. Needs to be flexible because humans are pretty smushy.

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      That's a cool idea, wrap up all the practical bio sensors on a flex board: pulse, O2 sat, temp, resistance (though you're bound to sweat under the plastic), and electrical. Do you think you can extract usable data from one board, or would you need a bunch of them located at strategic points around the body?

      • gperco / about 11 years ago / 1

        Well, I suppose it could be done two ways. The first is to make small flexible breakout boards for the various bio sensors and allow people to wire them together. This might allow for more optimal placement of each individual sensor. But as the boards get smaller, curvature becomes negligible, so it's not really worth using a flexible board. Unless you're trying to attach sensors to the tips of your fingers, this size limit is probably around an inch. The second way is more of what I had in mind, have a ~2"x2" flex board with all of the relevant sensors that can be placed just like a gauze pad.

        I mention that there may be a strategic location for each sensor, but I'm not sure that really matters for hackers with bio sensors. We're not trying to compete with the medical industry (yet?), we just want a simple package for getting some kind of reading for these types of sensors. Some of the measurements will have reduced accuracy when placed at random, but most will still give useable results. For instance, pulse oximetry can be done using reflectance instead of transmission, allowing the measurement to be made on places other than just fingers and earlobes.

        One of the more difficult aspects of using the kinds of sensors you sell for bio measurements is wiring them together in a way that will withstand the typical environment, but not wrap someone up in wires. Having a single flex board with a handful of sensors and some onboard processing would greatly simplify the task of using these for cool projects.

  • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago * / 1

    A flexible solar panel charging station kit! Think, the Flexiboost! do roll-up flexible solar panels, maybe in the back of one, there could be flexible and thin circuit board segments with voltage and current regulation, usb charging, a lipo battery, maybe even a microcontroller on board!

  • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago / 1

    Model airplane wing mounted sensors, because flexible circuits are really thin!

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      What kind of sensors would you implement?

      • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago / 1

        Air temp, humidity, pressure, or speed, solar cells for powering the plane, cameras, light sensors, all kinds of stuff where being thin is necessary.

  • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago / 1

    A tiny, thin, and light Arduino compatible microcontroller!

  • Thetinkerer / about 11 years ago / 1

    What would be really cool is an e-paper display+breakout on flexible circuit board with maybe an ATMEGA328 and some proto areas. Not only would this be somewhat flexible, but because of how thin and light it would be, you could put a display on anything!

    • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

      That would be cool, but e-paper is still an expensive and hard-to-implement technology. I'm sure what you're describing will be on our storefront in ten years though!

  • metrazol / about 11 years ago / 1

    Combine the flexible boards with some of the flex sensors y'all already stock, you have a quick kit that can be a scale, game of strength toy, or even a talking door mat, all in one easy to solder up package. Few SMD parts, some through hole soldering, voila, new kit for the kids.

    Or build a SEEEEEEDuino clone that isn't so wonky. Is that the right number of 'E's?

  • astroN00B / about 11 years ago / 1

    I think it would be really cool to have a heart rater monitor that you could sew onto your clothes. This thing seems to have a small display that could show the heart rate and maybe you could put a buzzer in so that it would make some noise if it goes over a certain rate or something along those lines.

  • MattM. / about 11 years ago / 1

    What are the size limitations? Can we include magnets? I'm thinking some sort of stack able and interchangable components. or scratch the magnets and make a flexible breadboard.

  • Ben Kuper / about 11 years ago / 1

    Idea for the flex circuits ! Cylindrical, like round cell shaped arduino uno fork : The RoundBoard. Very convenient for many designs (juggling props, light saber,, sex toys, anything !)

  • rileyh / about 11 years ago / 1

    What about a light up belt buckle or such? Like it could be sewn in to the belt or clipped on and it would light up or make sounds. The flexibility would be perfect since belts have to undergo some major bending. Batman belt buckle perhaps?

  • rotormind / about 11 years ago / 1

    So what's the "nifty little design?" Link please?

    • rotormind / about 11 years ago / 1

      OK SF: if it's just the flex circuit, is that any different from the common polyimide flexiblePCB?

      • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 1

        Not appreciably; tell us what product you'd make with this technology.

    • I think the idea is that you come up with the design yourself using a flexible circuit!

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