The flexible microcircuit patch, designed by John Rogers and Todd Coleman, will replace electrodes and large monitors for measuring body and brain functions. This biological and electrical engineering combination will transform biometric capabilities.
From IO9 News: A team of engineers today announced a discovery that could change the world of electronics forever. Called an "epidermal electronic system" (EES), it's basically an electronic circuit mounted on your skin, designed to stretch, flex, and twist — and to take input from the movements of your body. EES is a leap forward for wearable technologies, and has potential applications ranging from medical diagnostics to video game control and accelerated wound-healing. Engineers John Rogers and Todd Coleman, who worked on the discovery, tell io9 it's a huge step towards erasing the divide that separates machine and human.
From Nano Werk News: Recent advances in materials, fabrication strategies and device designs for flexible and stretchable electronics and sensors make it possible to envision a not-too-distant future where ultra-thin, flexible circuits based on inorganic semiconductors can be wrapped and attached to any imaginable surface, including body parts and even internal organs. Robotic technologies will also benefit as it becomes possible to fabricate 'electronic skin' that, for instance, could allow surgical robots to interact, in a soft contacting mode, with their surroundings through touch.
From POPSCI News: The same touchy engineers who gave us the first peel-able epidermal electronics in 2011 have a new 2012 virtual tactile system: Smart fingers, which could someday bring a real sense of touch to tele-presence applications. Surgical robots or human doctors could virtually feel surfaces, temperatures and other characteristics, through special smart gloves designed to trick the brain into thinking its feeling.
From IGERT News: Researchers at the University of Illinois are developing a general-purpose methodology towards designing novel brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that will significantly out-perform current approaches in existing applications and enable development of new applications. These techniques combine experimental and cognitive neurobiological principles, bioengineering and materials science engineering for novel interface designs, and the mathematical formalisms of feedback information theory and stochastic control. The result is a first-principles paradigm change for developing BMIs, from the neural interface to actuation.
From Science Magazine News: Imagine feeling like you’re lifting a 50-kilogram weight just by pulling at thin air. That’s just one of the possible applications of new "smart fingertips" created by a team of nano-engineers. The electronic fingers mold to the shape of the hand, and so far the researchers have shown that they can transmit electric signals to the skin. The team hopes to one day incorporate the devices into a smart glove that creates virtual sensations, fooling the brain into feeling everything from texture to temperature.
The microcircuit patches flexes, stretches, and wrinkles like healthy human skin, entirely without damage to the wires and functionality. When the technology is applied to the human body, it can form and fit body parts from fingers to hearts, which offers new biometric possibilities.
This technology type opens the door to new scientific possibilities in medical research and practice. The biometric patches can be employed to measure brain function, monitor the heart, analyze kidney function, and other vital organ. This technology will eventually perform wireless ultrasound. While Biosensors have been in use, the technology has not operated in a flexible, skin-like manner. Elements within the scientific community have great hopes for developing practical utilization for this scientific breakthrough in microcircuits. These advanced microsystems collect and communicate data from the human body, while transmitting neurological information to the body. Since the brain and nervous system are controlled through electronic signals, these micro-chips can communicate in similar manner, causing muscles to contract and relax, like silicon nerves, transmit sensory data to the brain cells.
Finally, the applications for skin-like microcircuits appear infinitely good. However, all technologies have the potential uses for evil. For example, any microcircuit that can be employed to stimulate muscles for restoration and regeneration from a distance can also be used to control muscles to kill a person. In other words, this technology can be used to trigger a heart attack, cause kidney failure, and make a person commit suicide because the operator does not have to be nearby to control a person’s mind and body. This biometric technology is new and its potential applications remain primarily in the dream realms. As development proceeds, it has the potential for great good and evil.
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