There has been a lot of chat recently regarding skin mounted electronics, which are expected to be released to the general public very soon. Research has increased in the area of skin based electronics, as researchers believe that these skin mounted electronics could be vital in tracking the health of the wearer of the electronic. Data collected from the device could then be sent to a health professional for analysis. There is even hope that the data could be analysed automatically by neural networks in order to offer the user a diagnosis of any condition that they may have. Whether the system could then prescribe or offer a suggestion for treatment could be a step too far…
The team of researchers who have been working on the project are based at Illinois’s University. They have managed to embed flexible circuits into a wafer like polymer substrate, which can then be attached to the skin of the user. The area of skin must be hairless, so a popular place to set the skin mounted electronic would be on the back of the hand.
These skin mounted electronics can be supported by other little electronics such as sensors, radio frequency capacitors and solar cells. It could be seen as like using add-ons for your phone to enhance functionality, and the researchers believe this could happen with skin mounted electronics aswell.
What makes the technology really cool is that it can adapt to a wrinkle in your skin without any loss of performance. So for those who want to wear the skin mounted electronic on their head can conceivably do so! Not that you’d want to of course. With many current wearable technologies currently on the market, they can be quite bulky. Skin mounted electronics could be different since the device would be unnoticeable to the wearer. The head researcher said that the technology connects you to the virtual world in a completely natural way.
It is only natural for us to ask how these electronics actually work and how they’re able to offer such excellent performance. The system is based on “twisted pair cables”, which are most commonly associated with the traditional telephone. The circuits contained within the device are composed of a pair of interwoven power lines, shaped like an S. This arrangement may sound confusing, but it allows the technology to be stretched across the skin without any adverse affect on the performance of the skin mounted electronic.
One way in which the technology could be used in is with speech emulation. When the skin mounted electronic is attached to the throat, it is able to detect tiny muscle movements made by the wearer and translate this muscle movement into speech. This could be revolutionary.
In terms of when this technology could be introduced, the first products to market may still be a decade off. It is certainly worth keeping an eye on, as we believe this technology will be here to stay.