The future of wearables may not be so static like those we see these days. Researchers from MIT and Stanford have developed miniature wearable robots and presented them at the ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST) in Tokyo. Named Rovables, these tiny robots can crawl down and around unmodified garments, meaning you don’t need to wear any special garment to make them crawl on you.
With the help of magnetic gripping wheels on either side of clothing, Rovables can scale garment. Sensors and artificial intelligence help them to be partially autonomous. While having a size of little bigger than a ring box, these tiny wearable robots can house wireless communications, microcontrollers and a battery that will stay charged for 45 minutes at full capacity before needing to be charged again. However, the researchers say the battery life should extend for hours longer if the robots aren’t moving all the time.
These robots can be useful in many possible cases. When there’s a new email, they can tap on your body or roll up your sleeve if your body temperature increases. Also, they can form a light on your back during an evening bike ride or assemble on your arm to create a display and play video.
Rovables are currently a prototype and need to be able to navigate in 3-D space to work well. Although the researchers have a model for how it might work, they have yet to make a micro-controller that has sufficient processing power to conduct the complex algorithms necessary for that level of path-planning. Albeit only being a lab-based project right now, Rovables do suggest a future in which wearable robots become so inclusive they’re crawling all over our body.