Researchers Develop Wearable Electronics That Can be Applied Right to Skin
March 12, 2013 10:56 AM
This type of wearable technology is able to measure vitals like temperature and hydration of the skin
Wearable technology seems to be all the rage, with Google selling its
to early adopters and Apple developing
a smart watch
due to be released this year. But researchers at the University of Illinois are taking wearable tech to another level.
Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- who were led by John Rogers -- have created an electronic device that can be applied right to the skin for medical purposes.
The devices, called epidermal electronics, consist of thin electrodes, sensors, electronics and wireless communication/power systems. Previously, they were attached to the skin using an elastomer backing, but this material wasn't able to survive everyday situations like the shower, swimming, etc.
But Rogers and the team removed their elastomer backing and printed the electronics right
on the skin
instead, kind of like a tattoo. This made the device one-thirtieth as thick, meaning it could move along with the skin and endure daily activities.
“What we’ve found is that you don’t even need the elastomer backing,” Rogers said. “You can use a rubber stamp to just deliver the ultrathin mesh electronics directly to the surface of the skin.”
He added that using spray-on bandage products help keep the electronics stuck to the skin -- for a maximum of two weeks. But during the two weeks that the device is attached, it is able to measure vitals like temperature and hydration of the skin.
This type of wearable technology could one day be used on patients with surgical wounds. With a device like this planted near the wound, healthcare providers could wirelessly receive updates on how it is healing.
MIT Technology Review
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