Scientists have created a wearable that can record data through skin. This wearable electronic skin nanomesh looks like a stylish gold tattoo, and it is ideal for long-term medical monitoring. The wearable tattoo is a step closer to eliminating larger health sensors, and it is so comfortable that people forget that they are wearing it.
Most skin-based interfaces consist of electronics embedded in a substance, like plastic, which is then stuck on to the screen. however, plastic is often rigid, which restricts movement and blocks sweat. Scientists have managed to bypass that problem by using a material that dissolves under water, leaving the electronic part directly on the skin. This is comfortable to bend and wear. In the field test of the wearable skin nanomesh, twenty participants wore the device n their skin for a week without problems. These participants did not get itchy or irritated, and the wearable did not break.
Lately, there has been a lot of interest in skin-based interfaces that remotely control a phone or turning skin into a touchscreen for a smartwatch. These are nice, but health monitoring is definitely a higher priority. All kinds of medical monitoring means putting electrodes on the skin. This includes measuring brain signals or heart beats. This might be okay inside a lab, but it poses problems if you need to keep monitoring these ital. signals at home.
This new wearable electronic skin nanomesh makes use of a material called polyvinyl alcohol. This is already being used in contact lenses and artificial cartilage. Now, the scientists made use of electrical force to create charged threads of the material, in a process known as electrospinning. Then these threads were coated in gold to make them more electrically conductive. When you put the wearable electronic skin nanomesh on your skin and spray on some water, the polyvinyl alcohol disappears, and the gold threads remain there. These could be used to power a LED light or transmit data to a laptop.
There’s a lot of potential uses for this device. However, one major downside is that it is so delicate, a side effect of the device being so comfortable. This means that the device might not be so durable. But then, it will look really awesome on the user – while it lasts.