We’ve often said that in order for wearable Health Tech to succeed, it must “disappear” into our daily lives. In other words, it should not be noticeable or require special attention. Instead of devices that have to be strapped on and recharged and synchronized, devices should become as natural as our own skin. And that’s exactly what Japanese researchers are trying to do.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo have succeeded in creating thin-film sensors that are an improvement over the other “electronic tattoo” devices that have been created so far. These other devices typically require a substrate that blocks the natural exchange of gases and moisture that takes place with human skin. This in turn can lead to irritation and inflammation. The University of Tokyo project uses a mesh of tiny gold wires to create a flexible and durable conductive layer directly on the skin. In tests, a patch using this technology was worn for a full week with no signs of inflammation. In addition, the system can also be used as sensors to detect temperature and pressure.

The creation of breathable, flexible, and durable sensors could open the door to a whole new range of long-term applications, from monitoring health biometrics to provide a natural interface for users to interact with machines and digital electronics systems.