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article imageNew 'electronic skin' expands health monitoring

By Tim Sandle     Sep 1, 2017 in Health
Daegu - A newly developed soft, stick-on patch is capable of collecting, analyzing and wirelessly transmitting a variety of health metrics from the body to a smartphone. It is another example of developments in digital health.
Researchers from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology have created a new, electronic skin that is capable of tracking ‘vital signs’ like heart rate, respiration, muscle movement along with other key health data. The electronic skin provides several improvements over current wearable trackers. These advantages include including improved flexibility, portability, and the ability to stick the self-adhesive patch directly onto human skin. The device is also relatively small, being no more than 1.5 inches across.
The skin-like patch, as TechCrunch has reported, collects, analyzes, and diagnoses what are termed bio-signals. These signals are wirelessly transmitted via mobile application. The patch is composed of around 50 individual components, which are connected by a network of 250 tiny wire coils embedded in protective silicone. The incorporation of silicone is important since this material allows the medical device to conform to the body shape. Flexibility is also aided by the coils in the device, which enable it to stretch without breaking. This is achieved through the use of an unusual spider-web style pattern that allows for stretching without breaking.
The device was devised by Professor Kyung-In Jang, from South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute, together with support from Professor John A. Rogers, who works at Northwestern University in the U. S.
The device detects information that can be collected from changes in electricity (such as heart, muscle, eye and brain activity) and information that is the product of movement, such as variations in respiration. The device is powered wirelessly which helps minimize the size and layout. Part of the development required attention to be paid to the positioning of the sensor as to avoid signal interference.
The breakthrough has been published in the journal Nature Communications under the heading “Self-assembled three dimensional network designs for soft electronics.”
The device is an example of developments with health related digital technology and what can be achieved by start-up companies stemming out from university research centers. The development signals further progress with interactive telemedicine and digital based treatment systems. With similar technology, researchers have devised a new platform for the early detection of skin cancer. The digital health initiative relies upon artificial intelligence to interpret images and to assist with notifying medics of possible cancer. See the Digital Journal article "Artificial intelligence helps with skin cancer detection."
More about electronic skin, wearables, Health monitor, biosensor
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