Why flowing crystals are good news for wearable technologies

Wearable Technologies expert

Dave Lamb was hired by 3M – formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company – straight after completing his docotorate in physics. His PhD research he conducted at the prestigious NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

At 3M Dave concentrates on Opitcal Systems and establishing appropriate metrics for optimum quality display. We ask him about today´s application of liquid crystals and his interest in wearable technologies.

1.       For those of us not familiar with liquid crystal, can you explain what they are?
“Liquid crystals are molecules that behave like something between a liquid and a solid (or crystal).  They can “flow” like a liquid, but the molecules have some preferred orientation, like in a solid.  Their unique physical and optical properties enable us to make useful optical devices (such as Liquid Crystal Displays) out of them.”

2.       And where can we find them in our daily lives apart from flat screens?
“They exist in our bodies.  The same physical properties that make liquid crystals so useful in making optical switches are also useful for making biological “switches” in the form of semi-permeable cell membranes.”

3.       On a scale from 1 to 10 how advanced is the application technology of liquid crystals?
“Our ability to synthesize and process liquid crystals to make useful devices is well-established and supported by a large industrial infrastructure. At the same time, this is a highly active area of cutting-edge scientific research, and new discoveries are made every day.  So I guess the application technology is a 7 or 8, and some of the world’s best scientists and engineers are trying to push it to 9 or 10.”

4.       Why are the latest developments in Liquid Crystals exciting news for the wearable technologies industry?
“The latest developments in Liquid Crystals Displays are resulting in wearable displays that are high in both information and color content while being energy efficient.”

5.       What is your favorite wearable technology?
“I’m quite keen on some of the biometric technologies that I am seeing.  Innovative sensor technology is now capable of accurately monitoring critical biological processes.  Combining these sensor technologies with wearable displays that are functional, stylish, and comfortable opens a lot of possibilities for improving people’s well-being.”

Dave Lamb will be speaking at the 12th Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco on the 8th of July. The topic of his key note is: “Expanding the Color Capabilities of Liquid Crystal Displays”