Japanese Spandex-maker Asahi Kasei Fibers has developed the world’s first elastic electrical cable, a stretchy conductive connector that could go a long way toward reducing cord clutter. But it’s not just a way to help you manage your multi-cord mess. Called Roboden, the stretchable cord could enable new generations of electronics-embedded textiles and robotic skins.
Roboden is already available in various kinds of cables, including USB cables and standard power cords, giving you that little bit of extra reach you always need to reach that wall socket. But the real upside is in the realm of automated machinery and robotics. Here, connecting cables previously had to be as long as the machines maximum range of motion to allow the machine to move unrestricted. This meant a lot of loose cord laying around.
With Roboden, the cord stretches when the robot/machine moves and pulls taut when the machine relaxes the tension, keeping extra cord from getting in the way. Likewise, when the day arrives that we want to start sheathing our humanoid robots in soft, skin-like coverings, stretchable electronics and chips are going to be the technologies that get us there.