Microscopic sensors and motors in smartphones detect movement, and could one day help their cameras focus. Now scientists have devised components for these machines that are compatible with the human body, potentially making them ideal for use in medical devices such as bionic limbs and other artificial body parts, researchers say.
The technology is called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, and involves parts less than 100 microns wide, the average diameter of a human hair. For example, the accelerometer that tells a smartphone if its screen is being held vertically or horizontally is a MEMS sensor; it convert signals from the phone's environment, such as its movement, into electrical impulses.
MEMS actuators, which may focus your next smartphone's camera, work in the opposite way, by converting electrical signals into movement.