Interactive e-skin could advance patient monitoring

Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley are claiming a breakthrough in the development of electronic skin that's interactive.

In a study published in the journal Nature Materials, they say previous work on e-skin focused on pressure sensors with an electronic readout. This new work includes an interface that provides a visual readout through an organic light-emitting diode display with red, green and blue pixels. The lights not only indicate where the surface was touched, but also grow brighter as pressure increases.

The plastic skin could have a number of uses, including in healthcare, they write.

"I ... imagine an e-skin bandage applied to an arm as a health monitor that continuously checks blood pressure and pulse rates," Chuan Wang, co-lead author of the study, says in an announcement.

The e-skin is flexible and can be easily laminated to any surface. The researchers now are working to make the e-skin sensors respond to temperature and light, as well as pressure.

University of Pennsylvania researchers previously developed a patient monitoring system that would adhere to the skin like a temporary tattoo. It could track vital signs including cardiac rhythms, pulse rate, muscle contraction and other biometrics.

Other research has focused on skin-like soft sensors for fingertips in an effort to create "smart" gloves for surgeons. The UC-Berkeley e-skin could give robots a more sophisticated sense of touch, the authors say.

To learn more:
- read the research
- find the announcement

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