Researchers at The University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) are working on flexible, stretchy semiconductors for AI applications with human health wearables. Potential benefits of flexible electronic components for wearables include comfort and resistance to strain or breakage. We’ve written in the past about flexible batteries, flexible 3D printed sensors, and flexible displays. The Pritzker engineers are now taking flexibility to a next level process health data continuously.

The PME team published a report on the technology in Matter. Stretchable semiconductors can conform to body parts while they process data from multiple biometric sensors. With such skin computing, or “edge computing for wearables,” you won’t need to transmit massive amounts of data to external devices. Instead of analyzing data with a smartphone app, in the cloud, or on a centrally located medical platform, the analysis takes place on your wrist, ankle, back, chest, or wherever the flexible CPU lies.

PME’s Sihong Wang, an assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering and one of the study authors, said, “With this work we’ve bridged wearable technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a powerful device which can analyze health data right on our own bodies.”

The future of medical skin computing offers new levels of remote patient monitoring and care. Perhaps in the relatively near future annual physicals won’t require an office visit. We can stay home for regular checkups or continuous monitoring for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Realtime decentralized data analysis could also help with rehab monitoring and other vital processes such as tracking viral infections during a pandemic.