Conventional pressure sensors are quite small, inflexible and somewhat fragile. Using them in applications where they will be touching a human body, like in the seat of a car or in sports gear, can result in discomfort. They also have a hard time with accurate readings on large objects because of their small surface area, and because some larger objects can actually crush them outright. Solving these issues would help to get pressure sensing into a much wider variety of applications and improve current applications drastically, so that is exactly what LG Innotek, the innovative and experimental branch of LG, has decided to do. They've announced that they're working on a new kind of pressure sensor that's embedded in textile fabric, allowing it to be used just about anywhere.
LG Innotek's new sensors are unique in a variety of ways. For starters, by being made of a flexible polyurethane and embedded into fabrics, the sensor can go into brand new applications, mostly involving direct human contact. The sensors also work by capacitance rather than the plate approach of typical sensors, making them much less fragile, more accurate, and able to measure a higher total pressure than typical sensors. Because of these qualities, the sensors managed to remain accurate in fairly extreme tests, including operating between 40 degrees below zero to 80 degrees Celsius for up to 240 hours, along with having a grown man sit on and get up from the tile over 100,000 times.
These new pressure sensors will see a variety of brand new uses for the technology, such as in the automotive field, in sports equipment, in wearable technology, and even in the medical field. Working via capacitance despite their thin profile, the sensors should cause minimal magnetic interference in sensitive operations, if any at all. LG Innotek will be debuting these new sensors for commercial use at an undisclosed time, but, according to relevant market research, into a market ripe for change and growth. The global market for pressure sensing technology is reportedly set to hit $16.3 billion by 2019, with an average year on year growth rate of 7.2%. While these figures are already promising, LG Innotek's new invention could create demand in entirely new markets, where pressure sensors have never been used before, resulting in even more growth.