Researchers have made rapid advances in wearable Health Tech to measure biomedical elements such as blood oxygen levels, heart rate, blood glucose, and blood pressure. These developments have increased the demand for ever smaller and more convenient physical devices. Wristbands and pendants so far are the most common form factors for biomedical measurement devices, but the search is on for less bulky, less obtrusive technology. Previous attempts at technology placed or “worn” directly on the skin have been unsatisfactory because they’ve been too thick and too stiff, resulting in an uncomfortable and oftentimes awkward experience.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo, however, have a new solution that instead of the previous e-skin technologies that measure millimeters thick, are only micrometers thick and can show test or monitoring results on an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display. Where previous “thin” technologies have used glass or plastic substrates, they’ve not been flexible enough nor have they “breathed.” The University of Tokyo material, however, combines organic and inorganic material in alternating layers through which oxygen and moisture can both pass freely. They also successfully attached transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes without breaking or otherwise compromising the skin.
This flexible and “breathable” thinner than ever so far e-skin development is still in the labs. So far the design prototypes have lasted several days. Work remains to be done, but at some point in the future we may be able to apply biomedical measurement patches for health tracking and sports training.