Researchers worldwide are developing applications for electronic skin patches. Healthcare applications for e-skin lead the field, but additional usage models including consumer electronics automotive, telecommunications, retail, aerospace, defense, and more signal the growing demand.

Electrical engineers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed flexible magnetic skin that could enable remotely controlled wireless applications without battery power. Using what the KAUST engineers describe as an inexpensive and simple process, the skin is an ultra-flexible, biocompatible polymer matrix filled with magnetized microparticles. “It can be customized into any shape and color, making it imperceptible or even stylish,” says KAUST Ph.D. student, Abdullah Almansouri. 

Team members attached the skin to a latex glove fingertip to show how it could activate an on-off sensor in a light switch. This application could help reduce contamination in laboratories and medical facilities. In other demonstration projects, the engineers attached the skin to an eyelid, to eyeglass frames, and even as an electronic tattoo on the forehead.

Among the next steps, the KAUST engineers are developing applications that use the skin for gesture-controlled wheelchairs and a contact-free human-computer interface.