Tiny electronic sensors stick to skin like a temporary tattoo

Tiny electronic sensors stick to skin like a temporary tattoo

first_imgMonitoring and diagnosing medical conditions like heart arrhythmia and sleep disorders isn’t anything new, but it’s often a pain for the patient who has to be hooked up to all sorts of wires and sensors. And although it’s effective, it would be nice if there was a more noninvasive way to do things. John A. Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has actually developed a prototype of an electronic temporary tattoo of sorts that will do just that.Rogers’s prototype gets rid of all the bulky electrodes and wiring used in the current monitors and can provide the same functions of those huge electrocardiograms that are normally only found in labs or clinics. Rogers and a group of international researchers found a way to make stretchable, super thin electronics that sticks to a person’s skin just like a temporary tattoo. It can measure the electrical activity of your muscle and brain activity. Rogers said the goal is to reshape electronics to look more like the human body. In this case, he means the layer of human skin.All of the components Rogers used in his flexible substrates are made up of materials like silicone that are not only thin, but also pliable, allowing them to move without tearing. The device uses electronic sensors that are embedded in a layer of film thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This is then put onto a polyester backing like a temporary tattoo (but without the dragon or team logo).The sensor can also be worn for up to 24 hours, allowing for monitoring outside of a clinic or doctor’s office. Rogers thinks they could potentially stay in place for as long as two weeks. But how does it stay on the skin without an adhesive? The device uses a weak force called the van der Waals force, which is similar to the way geckos cling to smooth surfaces. However, for long-term use, an adhesive would have to come into play.Another application that Rogers is still looking into is using the device to stimulate the muscles of physical therapy patients. The device also has potential to be used as a human-computer interface. Rogers demonstrated this by mounting one of the tattoos on a person’s throat and used the measurements of the electrical activity provided by the throat muscles to control a computer game. The software was able to differentiate between the words “left,” “right,” “up,” and “down” when spoken by the test subject. This was able to control and move the cursor on the screen.Rogers didn’t say when the electronic skin would be ready for market or what the price would be. The electronic skins can be applied and removed almost as easily as a Band-Aid, but we doubt you’ll be able to get a box of the temporary tattoos for even close to what you’d pay for a box of bandages any time soon.via MIT Technology Review, MSNBClast_img

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