Voice coils, or inductors more generally, can be used for the development of multi-functional actuators that allow for actuation, communication, and charging, among others. Inductors evoke steady magnetic fields at low frequencies (i.e. DC or f=0Hz) that can be used for actuation, and alternating electro-magnetic fields in form of radio waves that can be used for communication (i.e. f >= 30 MHz). This multi-functionality makes electro-magnetic actuators unique in comparison to other soft actuators (e.g. fluidically-driven soft actuators).

Magnetism research website.


A fundamentally different approach to embedding intelligence into materials is the use of fluidics. Fluidics has several interesting advantages (and disadvantages) over electronics. Advantages include resilience to electro-magnetism (e.g. ionizing radiation), extreme temperatures, and physical stress such as deformation. While this approach depicted an academic exercise at first (are we capable of building completely soft and non-electronic machines?), real-world applications are becoming viable.

► Fluidics research website.


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