Skip to comments.Breakthrough: Electronic Circuits That Are Integrated With Your Skin
Posted on 08/19/2012 2:02:39 PM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
A team of engineers today announced a discovery that could change the world of electronics forever. Called an "epidermal electronic system" (EES), it's basically an electronic circuit mounted on your skin, designed to stretch, flex, and twist and to take input from the movements of your body.
EES is a leap forward for wearable technologies, and has potential applications ranging from medical diagnostics to video game control and accelerated wound-healing. Engineers John Rogers and Todd Coleman, who worked on the discovery, tell io9 it's a huge step towards erasing the divide that separates machine and human.
Coleman and Rogers say they developed EES to forego the hard and rigid electronic "wafer" format of traditional electronics in favor of a softer, more dynamic platform.
To accomplish this, their team brought together scientists from several labs to develop "filamentary serpentine" (threadlike and squiggly) circuitry. When this circuitry is mounted on a thin, rubber substrate with elastic properties similar to skin, the result is a flexible patch that can bend and twist, or expand and contract, all without affecting electronic performance.
This video demonstrates the resilience of the EES patch, and how easily it can be applied. The patch (comprised of the circuitry and rubber substrate) is first mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, then applied to the skin with water like a temporary tattoo.
How Will We Wear Our Second Skin?
So what can an EES really do for us? The short answer is: a lot. In the paper describing their new technology, published in this week's issue of Science, the researchers illustrated the adaptability of their concept by demonstrating functionality in a wide array of electronic components, including biometric sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and even conductive coils and solar cells for power.
We asked Rogers what he thought were the most promising applications for the new technology. He said medicine was the most compelling:
"Our paper demonstrates our ability to monitor ECG (as a monitor of heart disease and metabolism), EMG (as a measure of, among other things, gait during walking) and EEG (as a measure of cognitive state and awareness)".
"We have also shown that these same devices can stimulate muscle tissue to induce contractions. When combined with sensing/monitoring, such modes of use could be valuable in physical rehabilitation. We also have interest in sleep monitoring (for sleep apnea), and neo-natal care (monitoring premature babies, in particular)".
According to Rogers, the electronic skin has already been shown to monitor patients' health measurements as effectively as conventional state-of-the-art electrodes that require bulky pads, straps, and irritating adhesive gels. "The fidelity of the measurement is equal to the best existing technology that is out there today, but in a very unique skin-like form," he explained.
What's more, the electronic skin's unique properties allow it to do things that existing biometric sensors simply can't touch. Todd Coleman, who co-led the project with Rogers, told io9 how an EES could be applied to a person's throat to serve as a communication aid:
"Within the realm of biomedical applications, one can imagine providing benefits to patients with muscular or neurological disorders like ALS. For example, in the Science article, our research group used the device to control a computer strategy game with muscles in the throat by speaking the commands."
"In principle, the same function could have been achieved by simply mouthing commands rather than speaking them out loud. As such, this capability could be provided to ALS patients so that they could "speak" through an epidermal electronics system that is un-noticeable to them, and invisible to other observers."
Outside the context of biomedicine, the EES's inconspicuous nature opens up a whole world of possibilities. The patches are already barely noticeable, but when mounted directly onto a temporary tattoo, for example, any evidence of electronic circuitry disappears. Coleman said:
"[This technology] provides a huge conceptual advance in wedding the biological world to the cyber world in a manner that is very natural. In some sense, the boundary between the electronics world and the biological world is becoming increasingly amorphous. The ramifications of this are mind-blowing, to say the least"
"I envision endless applications that extend beyond biomedical applications. For example, we could use the exact same technology and specifically its discrete tattoo-like appearance to perform covert military operations where an agent could communicate to the command station with these electric signals without ever speaking a word."
Coleman's statement touches on what is perhaps this most important thing about today's announcement, namely the precedent it sets for future technologies that aim to combine the organismal with the synthetic.
"The blurring of electronics and biology is really the key point here," said Northwestern University's Yonggang Huang, with whom Rogers and Coleman collaborated. "All established forms of electronics are hard, rigid. Biology is soft, elastic. It's two different worlds. This is a way to truly integrate them."
Looking to the future, Rogers echoes his colleague's sentiments. Describing what he envisions for his research group in the coming years, he said:
"We would like to expand the functionality such that the devices not only seamlessly integrate with the human body in a mechanical sense, but that they also communicate and interact with the tissue in modes that go beyond electrons and photons (the currency' of semiconductor device technologies), to the level of fluids and biomolecules (i.e. the currency' of biology). We are hoping, in this way, to blur the distinction between electronics and the human body, in ways that can advance human health."
In the Bible the original Greek word charagma used to refer to the "mark" of the beast can refer to a scratch or etching, and scarification is the scratching or etching of the skin just deep enough to leave a permanent mark.
And, oddly, there is a picture of this wonderful new technology of someone's forehead.
Everything is currently in place to confirm and complete the final book of the bible, “Revelations.”. It now only takes the hand of God to get this ball rolling...
No but the technology is here and ready to go.
Did you notice all the wonderfully beneficial qualities of this thing to mankind that are written into the article?
That's exactly right. We even now have an image which speaks.
Everything is ready to go. We're all just waiting for God's timing and for Him to act.
Thank you very much!
Computer tats. Creepyyy...
Interesting. Last month when I had the first eye surgery (cataract removal) I was asked to remove my ring and give it to the person who gave me a ride that day.
When they asked me to remove my medals, I refused. So they had me put the metal chain and metal medals into a small envelope and they taped it to my shirt.
with the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the nations surrounding Israel, the king of the north and the king of the south are in place, spoken of by Daniel and prophet
the time is at hand!
Some smart-ass liberals had a lot of fun choosing images for this article. The fools think they'll be exempt - or that their masters will be kind to them.
Yeah, I'll bet.
First get people to deny Satan, then get people to deny God, and they'll be ripe for anything Satan sends down the pike, like the gullible fools they are.
Add to that those who deny reality and refuse to see what is going on when it’s happening right in front of them.
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