Electronic body activity sensors like electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG) and electromyography (EMG) have traditionally been bulky, cumbersome pieces that require adhesive tape, conductive gel and sometimes needles to use.
Research published in Science magazine and reported on at Ars Technica discusses technology that utilizes ultra-thin polymers with embedded circuit elements to take various body measurements. Adhesives aren’t necessary due to van der Waals forces causing the atoms and molecules to attract each other and stay on the skin. The elements are also small enough to be attached to the skin with a temporary tattoo.
Compared to traditional sensors, the tattoo-sized sensors performed well in ECG, EMG and EEG tests. The thin sensors were able to capture data for up to six hours, and they stayed applied for 24 hours without degrading or causing irritation.
The sensors do need some improving. The research team discovered that when the circuits were stretched, it caused the RF communication frequencies to change. Dead skin and sweat also had undue effects on the sensors.
The authors of the study also discuss possible applications for this technology, including throat muscle activity measurement, remote medical monitoring, biological and chemical sensing, human-machine interface and cover communications.
Read more here.