News / Health

'Electronic' Skin Monitors Heart, Brain Function

So-called 'smart' skin is powered by a solar cell

'Smart' skin, which has all the properties of real skin, contains electronic components which measure everything from heart rate to brain waves.
'Smart' skin, which has all the properties of real skin, contains electronic components which measure everything from heart rate to brain waves.

Multimedia

Audio
Jessica Berman

U.S. researchers have developed a stretchy, ultra-thin, self-adhesive material that contains miniature electronics to monitor heart activity, brain waves and muscle movement.  

According to scientists, the new stretchy skin technology, epidermal electronics system (EES), is able to monitor key body functions without the use of cumbersome wires and glues since it attaches to the skin without adhesive.

The material bends, wrinkles and stretches with all the properties of skin. Yet it contains an array of electronic components that can measure everything from heart rate to brain waves.  The so-called “smart” skin is powered by a solar cell.

It was developed by scientists at the University of Illinois, Northwestern University in Illinois, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore and Dalian University of Technology in China.

John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is the project’s lead researcher. He says the electronically-embedded material, which can be placed anywhere on the body, is no thicker than a human hair and is difficult to handle. But they figured out a way around the problem.

“The way that we actually mount these devices on the skin uses ideas borrowed directly from kids’ temporary transfer tattoos," says Rogers, "which is that the device is so floppy, and flexible and skin-like that you can’t mechanically manipulate them effectively. You grab them on one edge and they kind of collapse and crumple under their own weight.”

So the researchers mounted the “smart” skins onto thin, water soluble polymer backings.  After the epidermal electronics device is applied face down onto real skin, the backing is rinsed away.

Rogers says researchers even used temporary tattoos as the backing.

"Temporary tattoos are already low cost, the materials have been worked out, the adhesion is good, why not just use that materials technology as a substrate. And oh, by the way, it provides a way to conceal the electronics to the extent that might be interesting for certain applications.”

Depending on where the “smart” skin is applied, Rogers says it’s possible to monitor the heart’s electrical activity, the contraction of muscles in the arm or the electrical activity of the brain.

“It also turns out that that data can be used as a type of human-machine interface for controlling computer systems, for example. And we demonstrated that concept using electrical activity measured on the throat as the wearer was speaking different words to control a cursor in a simple computer game.”

Researchers say the technology could be helpful to people with neuro-muscular diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid