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The world may be oohing and awing over all the wonderful uses we’re finding for graphene, but there’s another super-material vying for the spotlight. Vanadium dioxide might eventually become a household name because in addition to revolutionising electronics, researchers have now discovered it can be used as an artificial muscle 1000 times stronger than our own.
When delivered through a vibrating motor in a controller or smartphone, force feedback isn’t particularly realistic. So researchers at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute have developed a new system for smartphones that uses electrical muscle stimulation to physically move the player’s hands and forearms in response to the action happening on screen.
A Japanese company called Tokai Rubber Industries has created what it’s claiming to be the world’s first all rubber speaker. But it’s not made from the exact same material as the tires on your car. This is a smart rubber that could one day lead to artificial muscle technology.
Mind control is one way to control tomorrow’s gadgets, but Microsoft is at work on something simpler but no less effective (comparatively speaking): Controllers that involve nothing but the electrical impulses that take place everyday in our muscle tissue.