A group of Japanese scientists have created an “inflammation-free, lightweight, stretchable” e-skin sensor capable of lasting for up to a week, published in Nature Nanotechnology this week.
The new development could open the way for medical wearables that track heart-rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar throughout the week, without being invasive to the user.
At the same time, it could be used for commercial purposes, like a temporary tattoo that allows the person access to different zones in a museum or quick-track at a theme park. The focus is on medical applications for now though, say the scientists in charge.
“It will become possible to monitor patients’ vital signs without causing any stress or discomfort,” said Professor Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo. “What would the world be like if we had displays that could adhere to our bodies and even show our emotions or level of stress or unease? In addition to not having to carry a device with us at all times, they might enhance the way we interact with those around us or add a whole new dimension to how we communicate.”
Comfortable, not creepy
In a controlled test, 20 participants found no discomfort when wearing the plastic e-skin, some even forgot they were wearing it. The scientists said while there is no physical discomfort, wearing the e-skin for elongated periods could harm the natural breathing of skin.
A lot of progress has been made making electronics thinner than plastic, but actual deployment into the medical industry will still take time. It will take even longer for these sensors to monitor health conditions for extended periods of time, which is required for medical home monitoring solutions.