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Warm Windows and Streamlined Skin Patches – IDTechEx Explores Flexible and Printed Electronics

Flexible and printed electronics can be integrated into cars and homes to create modern aesthetics that are beneficial and easy to use. From luminous car controls to food labels that communicate the quality of food, the uses of this technology are endless and can upgrade many areas of everyday life.

Driving Designs

Luxurious and sleek car interiors are on the rise with the integration of flexible electronics. Embedded backlit touch sensors in the place of bulky buttons could mean smooth, wipe-clean surfaces, controlling the volume from the steering wheel, or opening the windows from a polished wooden tap-touch panel on the driver’s armrest. Using fewer materials, these sensors could create a streamlined and uniform look within the car. IDTechEx’s report, “Printed and Flexible Sensors 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Markets”, explores this further.

Winter days do not have to be so daunting, as noisy air-con and heated seats won’t be the only source of warmth. Heated windows could mean the end of cold condensation, and with technology to heat steering wheels, flexible electronics can help make frosty days more comfortable without having to grip icy leather.

Streamlined displays could use flexible electronics in the future to present traffic and in-car information in a new and compact way. It might be imaginable to expand screens when a larger surface area is required for that bigger map view or extensive list of music for long drives. IDTechEx predicts that by 2028, the automotive industry will be one of the largest markets for flexible and printed electronics and is already the second largest producer of revenue at US $850 million in 2023.

Home Life

The scope for home customization using flexible electronics is enormous, as computer access can be utilized in every room without taking up any extra space. The interactivity of commanding the lights or switching on the TV without having to scramble for a remote could increase relaxation, and sensors and small buttons could be integrated within the arm of the sofa or the side of a coffee table for ease of changing the environment without having to walk across the room. This straightforward and uncomplicated use of home appliances can benefit all ages – no more struggling to know which buttons to press!

Fridge foods do not need to start smelling bad, as smart packaging can notify consumers when they are no longer safe to eat, cutting out the taste testing. With flexible and printed electronics, labels can be fitted with sensors to detect when products should be thrown out or when they might still be safe past their use-by date so people can feel reassured about eating well and wasting less.

Health First

Simplifying important healthcare checks has become possible with flexible electronics. Skin patches that can carry out continuous glucose and heartrate monitoring are more versatile than ever, so walking the dog or going to the gym doesn’t need to be compromised, and results can be obtained in different states of movement with their discreetness, comfort, and ease of application. These smart patches can also be used to monitor the temperature of babies while they sleep, putting parents’ minds at ease. Their stretchiness and flexibility are factors contributing to the growing digital healthcare market, combining ease and comfort with precision.

The healthcare sector is already extremely dominant in this technology field, as glucose test strips currently take up a large section of the market. IDTechEx predicts that in 2028, the healthcare industry will still be making the most revenue, demonstrating the importance of flexible electronics for healthcare innovation.

With cars and homes becoming increasingly modernized and up to date with the latest flexible and printed electronics technology, the choice for personalization will be vast. People will be able to command technology from around their homes and have improved comfort in their cars. In 2033, it is predicted that the automotive industry will overtake healthcare in revenue production as the demand for new and improved vehicles steadily increases.

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