Thanks to the use of technology, doctors are just few steps away from tracking human vital signs through a ultra-thin, lightweight electronic skin worn on the body.
This was developed by a Professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering, Takao Someya. Although the invention is yet to undergo clinical trials, Someya is working with patners to develop manufacturing processes.
The wearable e-skin is made from a flexible material known as polyvinyl alcohol with a layer of gold. It is a wearable sensor that can pick up signals such as heartbeat and electrical impulses from muscle movement. Also, with a small wireless transmitter trapped to the chest heartbeat data can be sent to a nearby phone, laptop or to the cloud giving the easy access to the doctor to monitor closely.
According to Someya, in an interview with CNN Business, e-skin is the next generation of wearables. “Today’s mainstream wearables are in the form of smart watches and glasses, which are bulky. In contrast, e-skin is thin, lightweight, stretchable and durable” he said.
The invention was designed having in mind Japan’s rapidly aging population as well as athletes.
For the older people, their health needs to be monitored for longer periods with higher precision so that remote health care can be effective. He says the e-skin is a powerful tool for monitoring chronic disease like diabetes as well as heart failure. It may also help detect the early signs of illness.
While for athletes, Xenorama has integrated the e-skin into Pajamas to monitor temperature in bed and sportwear for fitness monitoring. Moreover, the startup partnered with a Tarkwondo practitioner, Mana Umehara to see how e-skin can benefit high- performance athletes. The technology tracks her body movements and sends the information to a laptop, where software translates it into data visualizations. This kind of movement tracking normally requires multiple cameras, Someya said.
In addition, Someya is also developing an LED display, in partnership with Dai Nippon Printing (DNPCF), to be worn on the back of the user’s hand. It is designed for older people or those who have difficulty using smartphones, it will show heartbeat data transmitted by the e-skin in easily understood graphics and can also display simple emojis sent by friends or relatives to make older people feel connected to their loved ones.
Conclusively, the ultimate goal of e-skin is to monitor all the different types of human information easily, anywhere and anytime, without disturbing daily activities said Someya