The innovative uses people find for load cells never ceases to amaze us here at Richmond Industries, although some are more amazing than others!
At one end of the spectrum we have stunning microtechnology that mimics the functions of human organs. A team at Harvard University have developed 3D printed organs in a tiny chip that includes integrated sensing. These microphysiological systems (MPS), known as organs-on-chips, allow researchers to mimic the micro-architecture and functions of various body parts and their tissues, to collect reliable data over time.
Printable soft strain gauges
The team developed special inks which enables the integration of soft strain gauges with human stem cell-derived laminar cardiac tissues. This enables non-invasive monitoring of tissue contractile stresses, especially useful when assessing reactions to new drugs. While the manufacturing process is time-consuming and expensive, it is also fully automated. So, in time, the organ-on-a-chip could radically reduce the need for animal testing too. (See more at vimeo)
Smart devices and load cells
At the other end of the ‘amazing’ spectrum, we have the ‘smart’ devices that can keep you informed and in control of every aspect of your life via a mobile device app. So, you’ll find load cells in bluetooth scales that link to your fitness app, and smart mats that sit in your fridge and tell you when you’ve run out of milk.
Actually, the mat isn’t that smart. It’s just weighing your milk carton and letting you know when their weight falls below a certain point. The same applies to similar mats you can place in your cupboards. It says something about the British character that the photo used by The Daily Mail of the resulting ‘what’s running low in your cupboard” app showed that the user was running out of… tomato ketchup.
Beauty and the Brush
Top of our list of “things we never knew we needed that use load cells” is the smart hairbrush unveiled by L’Oreal at the Consumer Technology Show this year.
The Kérastase Hair Coach, to give it its proper name, is designed to “reinvent what a person’s relationship with their hair can look like”. While you brush you hair:
- a microphone listens for the tell-tale signs of hair frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage
- conductivity sensors detect if your hair is wet or dry
- 3-axis load cells measure the force you apply to your hair and hear when you brush
Naturally, all this information is them sent to an app on your phone, which also monitors weather including humidity and temperature. So, with brush and mobile app, you can plan the perfect hair care routine every day, all yours for just $189 (phone not included).
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If you’re planning a world-conquering new smart product that requires a unique load cell design, call us. We design and manufacture load cells in-house, including bespoke load cells for businesses, researchers, students, and those who like really neat hair.