Apple thought they were so smart when they started making computers that came in different colors. Now, inspired by the noble gecko, scientists may have found a way to print electronics on leather. Count down to the iWhip.
Geckos have been often admired by the scientific community, for their ability to cling securely to almost any surface. They've even been praised on Io9 before, for inspiring gloves and adhesives that could turn people into Spider-man.
Now the structures on their feet could make assembling computers as easy as scrap-booking. A gecko has small pyramid-shaped structures on its foot which allow it to increase its grip on the surface beneath it by pressing down. Scientists at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have duplicated this structure at the bottom of a stamp:
Pressing the stamp against the electronics causes the soft tips to collapse up against the stamp's body, maximizing the contact area between the stamp and the electronics and creating adhesion. The electronics are picked up in a complete batch, and, with the force removed, the soft tips snap back to their original shape. The electronics now are held in place by just the four tips, a small contact area. This allows the electronics to be easily transferred to a new surface.
The 'new surface' can be plastic, or fabric, or even leather. With this advance, computer technology has the potential to get a lot more flexible.