18 July 2017

Your next temporary tattoo could help your doctor diagnose you

Medicine's version of the temporary tattoo is here.
Medicine’s version of the temporary tattoo is here.

Image: Takao Someya Group/University of Tokyo

Temporary tattoos are pretty fun. But soon they could be life-changing.  

Scientists have developed a stretchable electronic sensor that looks like a temporary tattoo—and, one day, it could be used to monitor vital signs.

Right now, patients with chronic conditions have to suffer with stiff plastic sensors that don’t breathe very well.

These new hypoallergenic sensors, developed by scientists at the University of Tokyo, are made out of a nanoscale mesh so lightweight and thin that people forgot they were wearing them. After a week of testing, the sensors didn’t irritate the skin or break, and they successfully recorded the electrical activity of muscles with “minimal discomfort” to the user.  

The e-skin can measure things like pressure on the skin.

The e-skin can measure things like pressure on the skin.

Image:  SOMEYA LABORATORY/university of tokyo

The electric skin was able to detect touch, temperature, and pressure, according to the study, published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

This could be a game-changer—not only for monitoring vitals, but also for improving prosthetic limbs. Looks like we’re one step closer to becoming living, breathing pieces of technology ourselves. 

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