Researchers in Japan claim to have developed one of the world's first ultrathin, elastic skin displays - a device that can display health sensor information on a patient's skin.
In a research project conducted at the University of Tokyo, scientists were able to create an elastic display that can be applied to the skin and perform electrocardiograms.
This is enabled thanks to an on-skin electrode sensor. Describing it as a biomedical sensor system, the researchers claimed that the device could send patient health metrics straight to the cloud.
Professor Takao Someya, who works at the University's School of Engineering, teamed up with several other Japanese academics to explore ways that skin patches could be used to monitor patients' vital indicators.
He explained that recent advances in semiconductor technologies and wearable devices mean that it is possible to keep track of a patient's vital signs straight from a mobile device.
The device... sports a flexible display and a sensor that consists of nanomesh electrode and wireless communication modules
Devices that take electrocardiogram (ECG) readings are often bulky and expensive, but Someya's research could change the game. He said doctors can access this information in real-time from a smartphone.
This particular skin electronics system can is useful for elderly people who may run into difficulty using traditional devices, he said.
Someya explained that his device "promises to help ease the strain on home healthcare systems in aging societies through continuous, non-invasive health monitoring and self-care at home".
The device, which Someya described as an "integrated system", sports a flexible display and a sensor that consists of nanomesh electrode and wireless communication modules.
When using the system, doctors have the option to send data to either a smartphone or to a cloud storage platform for future reference - improving efficiency.
The current aging society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals in order to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care
"Our skin display exhibits simple graphics with motion. Because it is made from thin and soft materials, it can be 'deformed' freely," said Someya.
The researcher enlisted the help of a Japanese printing company to make the display possible. It also includes a 16 by 24 array of micro LEDs and stretchable wiring mounted on a rubber sheet, he said.
Talking about the benefits, Someya claimed that the device is "far more resistant to the wear and tear of stretching than previous wearable displays.
He also claimed that it is the first flexible device to "achieve superior durability and stability in air, such that not a single pixel failed in the matrix-type display".
The device is expected to come to market in as soon as three years, Someya added. "The current aging society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals in order to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care.
"Our system could serve as one of the long-awaited solutions to fulfill this need, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life for many."
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