Electronic Tattoo – Taking Measurements Without Breaking a Sweat

Electronic Tattoo – Taking Measurements Without Breaking a Sweat

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Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a temporary “e-tattoo” for the palm that can track excitement and stress using the skin’s electrical conductivity. The e-tattoo could be a reliable way for people with conditions such as anxiety or depression to track their emotions.

In a research paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the palm tattoo stayed on for 15 hours while subjects did everyday activities such as driving, eating and exercising.

Nanshu Lu, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, said the e-tattoo could allow patients to track stress levels without wearing a bulky medical device.

“This is such an ultrathin and invisible tattoo,” said Lu, an author on the study, “but mechanically, it’s resilient enough to survive all kinds of activities.”

Lu sees e-tattoos as a way to “digitize” the human body. She noted a pattern in tech development over the years in which humans are becoming more digital as robots begin to adopt the skills and intelligence of humans. Her goal is to bring humans even closer to bridging that gap.

Lu has studied e-tattoos for over 12 years. She created a stretchable chest tattoo to monitor heart health and was awarded a $1.5 million grant to design an e-tattoo that tracks pneumonia symptoms. She wants to create sensors to collect important medical data that are easy to wear and use.

The goal, she said, is to make electronics, whether they’re sensors or processors, “as soft and stretchy as human tissue.”

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