UCLIC Research Seminar Series

UCLIC Research Seminar 23rd of October: Ben Oldfrey (UCL) on "The future of tech is squidgy"
Ben Oldfrey, University College London


UCLIC Research Seminar 23rd of October: Ben Oldfrey (UCL) on "The future of tech is squidgy"


Humans have a huge array of technological achievements, but most of this is done using hard, rigid materials. The beautiful weavesOur soft material technology has not kept pace, and is mostly just protection for our hard tech. Although the greatest computational device we know of - our brains - are super soft and squidgy, our computers are far from it. Natural muscle is awesome (and squidgy) and we are far from matching its abilities. As we move into an age of wearables and ultra connectivity - ie. to us, the development of high tech soft devices will become more and more important. Ben will look at what is happening in the field of soft robotics and sensing, and how we should look to emulate the greatest machines we know of - us. He will discuss the work of the Wearable Assistive Materials group based at UCL who are developing a composite actuating and sensing material that could be used for soft exoskeleton devices, as well as working towards intelligent socket liners for prosthetic users.

He will use this work to describe some of the practical considerations when using soft materials - whether using 3D printing or other construction methods - and the use of advanced machine learning to handle the kind of behaviours inherent in them.


Ben Oldfrey is a Research Fellow working between the Global Disability Innovation Hub and the Institute of Making looking at materials, innovation strategies and prosthetics for low resource settings. He has Master's Degrees in both Theoretical Physics and Mathematical Modelling of Complex Biological Systems, and his PhD 'A 3D Printing and Deep Learning Approach to Wearable Stretch Sensors' looks at the use of soft materials to make stretch sensors with application in prosthetics. As well as a variety of journal and conference papers, he was recently commissioned by BBC2's 'The Big Life Fix' to produce a pair of soft voice control orthotic gloves that allowed grip control to a partially paralysed man.