Skin Worn Electronics that Stretch and Wrinkle

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Photo: University of Illinois

Electronic chips applied directly to your forehead are closer than you think. Engineers from the University of Illinois have come up with an electronic patch that's ultra-thin and wrinkles like real skin.

John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder professor of engineering at the University of Illinois, led the research on the novel skin-mounted electronics. The patch is a chip suite made of sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power. The whole thing is put on a thin, rubbery substrate that can bend, stretch, and wrinkles like skin.

Applying the patch is almost like rubbing on a temporary tattoo as the device is transferred from a piece of water-soluble plastic that's placed on the skin. Alternatively, the device can be applied with a temporary tattoo to conceal the electronics.

Photo: University of Illinois

So far the scientists have only tested their device for medical uses, including Electroencephalography and Electromyogram tests to monitor nerve and muscle activity. The major advantage of these skin-like patches is that you can wear them anywhere, unlike current medical sensors that require conductive gel, tape, skin-penetrating pins and bulky wires.

The researchers also found that their sensor could distinguish distinct muscle movements from simple speech when they applied it to a person's throat. The researchers have even used the electronic patches to control a video game and interface with a computer. So there's the potential that this technology be the future for human-computer interfacing.

Would you wear a chip patch? Leave a comment below.

[University of Illinois via Physorg]

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