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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More