As a provider of product rapid prototyping services, X Rapid Technologies always keeps a closer eye on the state of play of our target markets. Take a look at what's new in the consumer electronics industry and how product rapid prototyping services can help.

Recently, IDC, an international data company, released a report on the global wearable devices market in 2021. The report shows that the global wearable device shipments in 2021 will be 530 million units, up 20% year-on-year. 140 million units will be shipped to the Chinese market, up 25% year on year. In contrast, global smartphone shipments in 2021 will be 1.36 billion, up only 5% year-on-year. 

Other than that, among the global consumer electronics market, the smartphone market is already saturated, and the largest growth point is wearable devices, such as headphones, bracelets, watches, and glasses. This field has also become a must for global technology giants. The top four players in the global wearable devices market are Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Apple, Xiaomi, and Samsung's growth rate was 7% to 8%, while Huawei's growth was rapid, with Huawei's wearable device shipments growing 36% year-on-year globally.

The major giants are launching wearable devices, mainly competing for higher performance and a more fashionable appearance. The future may bring a competing focus in another direction, namely, the introduction of flexible wearable devices that are thinner, lighter, and softer. For example, monitoring the body's health data bracelet, watch, is it possible to make a band-aid than a thin and light sheet, to the skin gently stick on the line? The extrusion deformation of the electronic device should be taken into account as well as the comfort of wearing and other aspects. In fact, "flexible electronics" has become a hot area of scientific research in the past few years. Let's talk about one of the latest developments.

On March 16, researchers at Tsinghua University published a cover article in the journal Science Advances. They developed a new type of circuit board, which has a multi-layer flexible structure and can be significantly deformed, without affecting the work of the chips and electronic components on the board.

Because electronic components generally can not be stretched, the task of flexible deformation can only be left to those between these spaces to complete. Therefore, it is necessary to leave enough space among the electronic components to increase the stretch rate. However, if the space left is big, the functional density of the board would be reduced. It is hard to balance.

In this study by Tsinghua University, however, functional density was increased significantly without reducing the stretch rate. While maintaining a 20% stretch rate, the previous highest functional density was increased by 1/3 to 110%. This figure indicates that 11 chips were installed on a board with an area equivalent to that of 10 chips.

Researchers also used this flexible circuit board to make a penny-sized "wireless mouse" attached to the back of the experimenter's hand, using it to access a computer to play games, with no problem at all. Researchers hope that this research will provide a universal manufacturing solution for flexible devices in the future.

The market expects that flexible wearable devices may be the first to be used on a large scale in the medical field, for example, fetal heartbeat monitors and cardiac monitors for adults. These devices now still require manual operation and have to be measured every so often, which is cumbersome. A flexible device attached to the skin can continuously and automatically monitor 7×24, synchronizing the data to the patient and the doctor's system. It will open up a large market.

As you can see, flexible wearable devices are on the eve of large-scale commercialization, and X Rapid Technologies will keep your attention. 

Consumer electronics is one of the industries that frequently require product rapid prototyping services. Witnessing the trend of flexible wearable devices, we also realize that businesses of product rapid prototyping services should be prepared to play the role of accelerating their R&D processes in advance. According to the possible applications of flexible wearable devices, companies of product rapid prototyping services also need to pay close attention to the medical device industry. New opportunities to grow probably lie in the trends.