This 'tattoo' monitors vital signs of patients

An international team of researchers which is behind the device said it would eliminate the bulky wiring and electrodes used in current monitors and make it more comfortable for patients.

The scientist, who detailed their findings in the journal Science, embedded electronic sensors in a film thinner than the diameter of a human hair which was placed on a polyester backing like those used for the temporary tattoos popular with children.
The result was a sensor that was flexible enough to move with the skin and would adhere without adhesives, and the researchers said the test devices had remained in place for up to 24 hours, the Daily Mail reported.

Although normal shedding of skin cells would eventually cause the monitors to come off, the team believe the new device could remain in place for as long as two weeks.
“What we are trying to do here is to really reshape and redefine electronics to look a lot more like the human body, in this case the surface layers of the skin,” said researcher John Rogers of the University of Illinois.

“The goal is really to blur the distinction between electronics and biological tissue.”
In addition to monitoring patients in hospitals, other uses for the devices could include monitoring brain waves, muscle movement, sensing the larynx for speech, emitting heat to help heal wounds and perhaps even being made touch sensitive and placed on artificial limbs.

Like a bandage

The device resembles a bandage and contains an antenna that could be used to transmit data, though a radio to do that transmitting has not yet been tested. The current design has a small coil and could be powered by induction — by placing it near an electrical coil. This would permit intermittent use, and for longer-term monitoring a tiny battery or storage capacitor could be fitted.

The monitor does not use an adhesive, relying on a weak force that causes molecules and surfaces to stick together.

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