Researchers at Monash University’s Faculty of Engineering in Australia have developed wearable electronic skin that can monitor a person’s health in real-time.
The researchers, Professor Wenlong Cheng, Dr Yan Wang and Dr Shu Gong, have spent over three years researching, developing and patenting the stretchable electronic device that can reportedly match the mechanical properties of soft tissue.
The wearable electronic skin tracks an array of health signals from muscle strain and blood pressure, to cholesterol and glucose levels. The data can be monitored on any smartphone via Bluetooth.
The wearable electronic skin is comprised of thin gold nanowires, each the size of one thousandth of a human hair, in an elastomeric sheet that can be stretched up to nine times its original size without tearing. Trials have shown that the wearable electronic skin can still provide 93% data accuracy even after 2,000 stretch and release cycles of up to 800% strain.
According to Professor Cheng, the wearable electronic skin is durable and portable, allowing it to be worn or implanted into any part of the body.
“Current healthcare treatment is hospital-centred because of our dependence on expensive, heavy diagnostic tools that are only available in specialised medical practices and require trained personnel to operate. Wearable biodiagnostics can overcome this limitation and move towards better patient-centred healthcare,” said Professor Cheng.
The researchers have already developed a number of wearable prototypes using their gold nanowire film.
“Current wearables are rigid and bulky, which cause discomfort to the human body, and can cost thousands of dollars. If we can design skin-like diagnostic materials that are thin, soft, portable and comfortable we can fundamentally change the way healthcare is managed,” concluded Professor Cheng.
In the near future, the researchers plan to further test their wearable electronic skin in real-world cases.