Supply chain
ITRI, SEMI, Taiwan universities team up to develop flexible hybrid electronics technology
Rodney Chan, DIGITIMES, Taipei

To promote precision sports, ITRI, SEMI, Chang Gung University (CGU), and National Taiwan Sport University (NTSU) have signed an agreement to jointly develop flexible hybrid electronics and to formulate a developmental blueprint for related industrial technology.

Precision sport science can provide more efficient training that will boost the chances of winning in competitions, they said.

The joint efforts will focus on smart wearable products that will assist the athletic community in collecting and analyzing data. This will help to identify athletes with potential and provide reference for coaches' tactical decisions. Local and global companies will work together to establish an independent flexible hybrid electronics industry in Taiwan, paving the way to tap into the enormous market for sports technology, they said.

Chih-I Wu, ITRI's vice president and general director of Electronic and Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories, remarked that flexible hybrid electronics make it possible to effectively attach the devices to specific areas of the body and thereby enhance the comfort level in wearing them and accuracy in measuring physiological signals. ITRI's Flexible Hybrid Electronics Precision Motion Detection System utilizes wireless transmission technology to transfer myoelectric signals from the wearer of the device to a computer, and then uses algorithms to interpret muscle strength and fatigue. Integrated knowledge in various aspects of athletic training, the results can then be used in the course of training athletes or assisting in coaches' tactical decisions. This cooperation, he said, will take advantage of ITRI's excellence in information and communications and integrate the expertise of the industrial, academic, and research communities.

SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao stated that Taiwan has a comprehensive and highly vertical microelectronics industry supply chain and an impressive ability in integration, which yields key advantages in developing enormous business opportunities in flexible hybrid electronics. In collaboration with ITRI, FlexTech, a SEMI strategic partner for flexible hybrid electronics, on October 3 will formally establish the Taiwan FlexTech Steering Committee with the hope of assembling the academic, industrial, and research communities to jointly establish Taiwan's flexible hybrid electronics industry supply chain. Committee members will focus on smart wearables for precision athletics and fitness, assist in laying out a developmental blueprint for flexible hybrid electronics technology, and jointly promote international standards. The SEMI-FlexTech global platform will enable local and global companies to engage in greater cooperation, while the Flexible Electronics Conference and Exhibition (FLEX Taiwan) will continue to play a vital role in enhancing the technological strengths of Taiwan's flexible hybrid electronics and boosting the industry's international visibility, Tsao said.

CGU president Chia Chu Pao remarked that his university has already yielded successful integration of physiological signal and biomarker sensing, with practical applications in smart clothing, cardiac mapping, and the development of ultrasonic brain drug delivery systems.

NTSU indicated that developing sensors that can be used in sport contests has become an urgent topic in the development of competitive sports science in Taiwan. The sensors must be easily attached and comfortable, accurately collect the necessary training details in various sports, and comply with game rules. They could record all training and the course of competition, and then transmit data to a cloud database for analysis and real-time feedback. The team from NTSU hopes to take advantage of its participation in this project to be on the frontline in integrating the needs of coaches and athletes.

In the future, the four parties will develop technology and products driven by the needs of trainers and athletes, and will focus on five topics: precision selection of potential athletes; precision training and monitoring; precision prediction of readiness; precision regulation of the competition process; and precision collection of analytical data.

In the long run, the technological applications they will have developed will be extended to the textile industry to assist in the development of smart clothing technology and help the industry move into high added-value markets.


ITRI, SEMI, CGU and NTSU team up for sports science
Photo: ITRI

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