Monday, April 18, 2016

This Electronic Tattoo Turns Your Skin Into a Screen

[ed. Don't try to resist. You know it's coming... and it's not going stop at patches.]

Putting clock-radio-style numbers on your skin might not seem all that desirable. But these flashing digits are the proof of concept for a new electronic skin. In theory, "e-skins" like the one described Friday in Science Advances could be used for everything from monitoring vital signs to making wearable electronics a whole lot more wearable.

Lots of researchers are working on "smart skins." The idea is to package electronic sensors into a super-thin, super-flexible material — so thin and flexible that the user could wear it like a temporary tattoo. Recently, one research group even made a functional smart skin out of office supplies, such as Post-it notes and foil, showing that the whisper-thin electronic sensors need not be made from expensive materials.

Creating smart skins that include display screens is the ultimate goal: This would allow hospitals to monitor the vital signs of their patients with a simple stick-on patch. And in your day-to-day life, you could have the capabilities of a smartwatch in the palm of your hand — or wherever else you wanted them.

"The advent of mobile phones has changed the way we communicate. While these communication tools are getting smaller and smaller, they are still discrete devices that we have to carry with us," study author Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo said in a statement. "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."

by Rachel Feltman, Washington Post | Read more:
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