which exactly fits the gyri of the brain and enables the real-time study of epileptic patients

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Budding application areas, including electrics including heaters, solar cells, batteries and lighting, are propelling the growth of the worldwide flexible electronics market. The technologies enable electronic systems to be rolled, stretched, washed, and worn, and thereby conform to various architectural features.

Flexible electronics components are also capable of biodegradation with multiple-layer structures, which reduce the area required and number of interconnections, while increasing reliability of the system.

Key areas of application for flexible electronics include use in portable devices to provide a compact and robust form factor for electronics devices as well as medical applications such for use in the creation of a circuit, which exactly fits the gyri of the brain and enables the real-time study of epileptic patients.

Other applications include the incorporation of flexible circuits-based lightweight impact sensors into the uniform and helmets of soldiers to allow medics in providing better treatment to wounded soldiers. Stretchable circuits are also capable of being utilized with a standard balloon catheter to provide a range of radio circuitry and sensors to monitor electrical activity, pressure, temperature as well as blood flow inside the patient’s body.

Asia-Pacific constitutes the largest and fastest growing region, capturing a substantial share of the worldwide market, as stated by the new market research report on Flexible Electronics. Flanked by fast growing market of China, Taiwan, India and Korea among others, the Asian market is forecast to expand at a strong CAGR of over 38% through 2018.

By product segment, the world market for Electronic Displays captures the largest chunk of the flexible electronics market. The market, currently predominantly used for mobile phones and MP3, is expected to find major impetus with application in television screens, replacing CRT and LCD displays. The photovoltaic applications include low-cost and lightweight potential uses including rooftop panels and smart fabrics.

Apple’s solution to shaving thickness from the Retina MacBook Pro—gluing its lithium polymer battery cells directly to the aluminum unibody shell—continues to spark debate among proponents of sustainable electronics.

Apple submitted the device to the Green Electronics Council for an EPEAT Gold rating last week, prompting critics to argue that the glued-in battery should disqualify it from any rating at all. But it turns out that some recyclers disagree, saying it isn’t dramatically more difficult to safely remove the battery than in other modern devices.

The Retina MacBook Pro features a six-cell lithium polymer battery with a 95 Whr capacity—a 23 percent increase over the previous MacBook Pro design. To pack the larger battery inside the thinner 432307-001 case of the Retina MacBook Pro, however, Apple opted to attach the cells directly to the upper unibody casing using an industrial-strength adhesive.

That fact alone caused a wave of debate over repair issues. Teardown experts at iFixit criticized the decision by pointing out that the design made repair or replacement difficult, if not outright impossible, for users or third-party repair technicians. Apple does offer a battery replacement program, though it costs a pretty penny, at $199.

Many observers believed that Apple’s quest for ever-thinner computers and devices was behind the move. Apple’s engineering efforts have resulted in impressively thin laptops and tablets, for instance, but the trade-off is that the devices are harder to disassemble and repair. Days after the pull-out, though, Apple Senior VP of Product Engineering Bob Mansfield posted a public letter to Apple’s website announcing that the company would rejoin EPEAT and work with the group to update its standards.

Ars spoke to two large companies that specialize in recycling electronics to find out their opinions on just how difficult the Retina MacBook Pro’s battery is to remove. Surprisingly, both seemed confident that the glued-in battery wouldn’t present any major difficulties.

“We haven’t seen it yet for recycling, but we have dealt with glued-in batteries in the past,” Sims Recycling Solutions America President Steve Skurnac told Ars. “It’s a little more difficult, for sure, than those that pop out. Some products come in where the batteries are deep inside or hidden; having them glued in makes it a little more difficult, but not a lot more.”

“Puncturing the battery is a risk with other devices, and in our experience, scraping the battery out of a [Retina] MacBook Pro is no riskier,” Taggart explained. “Lithium ion can be a dangerous material, but it’s in everything now. We have whole processes to remove these from devices before separating out other materials.”

“Recyclers have a can-do attitude—they’ll say they can do anything, and they will find a way to do it,” Wiens told Ars. “The issue is that when products take them a long time to disassemble, it erodes their profit margins. There’s no way they could be profitable if all their products were as hard to disassemble as Apple’s.”

“We’ll devise a way to remove them in a safe manner. From our perspective, we would make sure that the process won’t run the risk of puncturing the battery,” Skernac said. “That may be some kind of bench setup that uses a custom machine to safely remove the batteries. But at this time, we’re anticipating being able to do it with common tools.”

Called the Kenguru, it can be backed up to a curb with the rear hatch open so a wheelchair user can roll him or herself into it. It also has a small ramp which lowers to allow a wheelchair to be rolled down or up for exiting or entering.

Once inside, the wheelchair can be locked down, so it does not move. In fact, the engine will not start until the wheelchair has been secured, and the rear door closed. The car’s controls can be operated from within a wheelchair. Steering is accomplished with a motorcycle-style handlebar, and there will be a joystick option available some time in the future.

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