Bendy Electronics Firm Brings Kits to the Masses Offering Lightweight Internet Anywhere

Posted on June 26, 2015


Build lightweight internet connected machines or wearable technologies with the printed circuit board that aims to revolutionise maker projects – the Printoo.

Photo credit: Ynvisible

Photo credit: Ynvisible

For far too long the world of electronics has been dominated by rigid circuit boards, little squares of brittle plastic studded with capacitors and resistors. So say ‘hola’ to the genesis of flexible boards and printed electronics. By printing conductive circuits on lightweight, paper-thin boards that bend with ease, makers can now create internet of things projects for flat or undulating surfaces and wearable circuitry that weighs next to nothing. Neat.

Portuguese firm Ynvisible are the brains behind Printoo, created as a Kickstarter project and conceived as a platform of wafer-like printed Arduino-compatible circuit boards with plug-in modules. These include solar panels, motors, light and motion sensors, plus internet and Bluetooth connectivity, for everyone to try out putting computational power into everyday objects.

Power and Print
Put together using the Atmel ATmega328 as its core microprocessor means that it is fully compatible with the Arduino development environment. Printoo can be powered by a range of batteries including a common watch-type battery, Enfucell’s soft battery and the innovative Blue Spark printed battery. Ynvisible also brings part of its core business to the boards with capacitive ink plug-ins and LED displays to make projects talk.

Vital to the vision are electrochromic displays, similar to e-ink but more low-tech and less power hungry. Put simply they change colour when low voltage electricity is applied and Boeing has endorsed their use by putting them in the 787 Dreamliner to shade the windows.

Apps allow you to connect Printoo to the net and remotely control them through the web from a smartphone or laptop. They also link into web social and IoT platform IFTTT so users can create their own interactive recipes or use other people’s. Wired rates the Ynvisible vision writing about Printoo’s ability to shatter traditional printed circuit board dominance and give rise to interactive posters, ad displays or even voting papers.

Photo credit: Ynvisible

Photo credit: Ynvisible

Beginner’s Ideal
Printoo has a series of ready-made projects for beginners to tackle, including a 3D printed hovercraft with a solar panel to power its engines. At Maker Faire UK 2015 the company debuted an impressive looking mini Mars rover kit that uses simple lightweight pre-cut wooden board. Put that alongside Printoo’s boards that can be cut with scissors and conductive paint pens that allow you to draw circuits, and you have a system that can be used by all ages.

Take a look at Printoo’s Youtube channel to see the sort of projects the company has been working on releasing. One of Ynvisible’s showcase projects is an app-controlled aquatic drone called Ziphius, see video below. Also check out the Ynvisible website and see what the group of companies is doing around robotics, augmented reality, educational and entertainment experiences and more. It is pretty impressive.