Electronic Tattoos: More than just Body Art

     Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed an electronic tattoo that can be “printed” directly on the body and can be worn for an extended period while doing normal daily activities. This device would track patients' symptoms by measuring heart rate and temperature, strain and hydration and then sending the information back to a doctor. E-tattoos like this could be used to track health and monitor healing near the skin’s surface, as in the case of monitoring surgical wounds after a patient leaves the hospital.  

     In other related medical research, scientists at Korea’s Center for Nanoparticle Research developed e-tattoos that can deliver medications and store information in addition to transmitting it.  Although there are many similar efforts to develop ‘electronic skin’ tattoos, this device is the first that can communicate with doctors, store information AND also deliver medications, thus combining patient treatment and monitoring. Researchers say that the technology could one day aid patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy.

     In non-medical uses, Google and Motorola have patented an electronic tattoo about the size of a postage stamp or Band-Aid that would use a Bluetooth-like connection to communicate with smartphones, gaming devices, tablets and wearable devices like Google Glass. It could be attached to a person’s throat or collar, and would include a microphone and power source. The idea is that wearers could use voice commands to communicate with their devices, eliminating the need to wear an earpiece or the Glass headset. Other possible uses mentioned include making both incoming and outgoing audio clearer from any device. This could mean anything from making smartphone conversations clearer in a crowded room to being able to listen to music without earphones.

 

For more information:

http://www.nature.com/news/electronic-skin-equipped-with-memory-1.14952

http://motherboard.vice.com/en_ca/read/e-tattoos-can-now-store-data-and-deliver-drugs

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2013/mar/13/electronic-tattoo-monitor-patient-symptoms

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/12/tech/innovation/google-throat-tattoo/