New Wearable Keyboards Could Be Sewn into Clothing
缝进衣物的新型可穿戴键盘
(选自《英语世界》2016年第7期)

缝进衣物的新型可穿戴键盘

文/蔡宙 译/刘丰 审订/亚男
By Charles Q. Choi

The Apple Watch and Google Glass are some of the most widely known wearable devices, but the ways users can interact with these “smart” gadgets are limited. For instance, it would be pretty difficult to type a message out on the face of a watch. And forget even trying with a pair of smart glasses. But now, researchers have developed wearable keyboards made of electronics knitted together like fabric that could lead to a new kind of human-machine interface.
苹果手表和谷歌眼镜是最广为人知的可穿戴设备, 但用户与这些“智能”物件的互动方式却有限。例如,在智能手表表盘输入文字信息相当困难, 更甭想在智能眼镜上尝试输入信息了。但如今,研究人员已经研发出电子元件织成的面料般的可穿戴键盘,这种键盘可提供一种全新的人机互动界面。

Right now, the key way that people interact with computers is by using the keyboard, researchers say. However, creating wearable keyboards for wearable electronics is a challenging task—such keyboards have to be large to fit enough keys to be useful, and must be flexible and stretchable to follow the movements of the human body.
研究人员说,目前,人与电脑互动的主要方式是使用键盘。然而,为可穿戴电子产品创建可穿戴式键盘很有挑战性——这种键盘要想实用,必须很宽大,能容纳足够多的按键,并且必须具备适应人体运动的灵活性和延展性。

In the past three years or so, researchers have tried to make electronics more wearable by making them like clothing—for instance, by knitting wires together into fabrics. These electronic textiles can get stretched up to the limit where the fibers are straightened. Such technology “provides a simple way to interact with machines,” said Esma Ismailova, a polymer science engineer at the National School of Mines in Gardanne, France, and co-author of a new study describing the new keyboards.
过去三年左右的时间里,研究人员尝试让电子器件更有可穿戴性,比如,把金属丝织入面料。这种电子织物具有和布料纤维一样的弹性。该技术“提供了一个与机器互动的简便方式”。法国加尔达纳国家矿山学院的高分子科学工程师、新键盘研究报告的合作者埃斯玛·伊斯迈洛娃说道。

The researchers started with polyester fabric. They stenciled the outline for an electronic circuit onto the fabric using an electrically insulating silicon rubber called PDMS. Then, they brush-painted an electrically conductive plastic called PEDOT:PSS onto the outline to fill it out. Finally, they coated this electronic circuit with more PDMS.
起初,研究人员从聚酯织物开始着手研究,他们用一种叫做PDMS 的电子绝缘硅胶将电路轮廓模印在织物上;随后,他们又把一种叫做PEDOT:PSS的导电塑料刷填在轮廓槽中并且填满;最后,涂抹更多的PDMS将电路覆盖。

The scientists used electrodes to connect this circuit to a computer. Square and rectangular patches of the circuit served as the keys of a keyboard. Pressing down on these patches generated easily detectable electrical signals.
科学家们用电极将电路连接到电脑上。这些方形和矩形的电路贴片就成了键盘的按键。按下这些贴片时,电路就产生容易检测到的电子信号。

The prototype keyboard can be worn on a sleeve and has 11 keys, representing the numbers 0 to 9 as well as an asterisk. The researchers noted that this fabric could be stretched by up to 30 percent and that after 1,000 cycles of stretching and relaxation, the fabric stayed about 90 percent as electrically conducting as it did at the start.
这种原型键盘可以戴在衣袖上,有11个按键,代表数字0至9以及一个星号。研究人员指出,这种织物的拉伸幅度可达30%,经过1000 次反复拉伸和舒张后,织物仍然保持初始导电性能的90%。

“A wearable keyboard would provide a more intuitive interface for tactile input than the touch-sensitive face of a smartwatch or the hand gestures that control devices such as the Google Glass,” Ismailova told LiveScience[1].
“相比智能手表的触摸感应表盘或是如操控谷歌眼镜的手势而言,可穿戴键盘将会提供一个更直观的触觉输入界面。”伊斯迈洛娃告诉LiveScience网站说。

The researchers suggested that textile keyboards could be woven not only into clothing, but also into furniture, wallpaper and other surfaces. Such technology “promises to enrich our daily lives with smart accessories and to change the way we interact with computers,” Ismailova said.
研究人员称,这种纺织键盘不仅能够织进衣物,还能够织进家具、壁纸及其他物体的表面。伊斯迈洛娃说,这种技术“有望以智能附件来丰富我们的日常生活,改变我们与电脑互动的方式。”

“One could envision, for example, using such a keyboard to control their smartphone, activity-tracking device or, down the road[2], an implantable medical device,” Ismailova said. “It is a rather straightforward technology, so I would expect some applications in less than five years. Applications in biomedical—for example, textile electrodes for monitoring the heart—might take a bit longer due to regulations.”
“比如,人们可以想象, 用这样一个键盘控制他们的智能手机、活动跟踪装置,甚至在不久的将来,用它来控制植入式医疗器件。”伊斯迈洛娃说,“这是一个相当简单的技术,所以我期望在五年之内能够实现一些应用。但是,受限于各种法规,在生物医学方面的应用,例如,用织物电极来监视心脏,可能需要更长时间。”

[1] 美国生命科学网,一个致力于科学新闻分享的网站,成立于2004 年。
[2] 一段时间之后。