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New biometric health sensor can be printed directly on the skin

Sites include . Published on March 15th, 2013. Written by Loic Cobbina.

Portable electronic sensors are getting popular especially with the combination of phone apps. In most cases, they have to be weared just like a watch. But that may not be necessary in the near future. The company MC10 has developed an electronic sensor that can attach to the skin just like a tattoo.

MC10 might be popular for producing wearable electronic products used by athletes. One other product its specializes in is the manufacturing of biostamps, which are more like medical diagnostic stickers. The co-founder of the company, John Rogers has refined that technology to the point where it can be applied directly into the human skin with the help of commercial spray on bandage.

Once the sensor is bound to the skin it can pick up physiological activities like the hydration state of the wearer and his skin temperature, which can be recorded for later analysis.

Biostamps are not really new, just that this time MC10 has come up with a sticker incredibly thin and yet still made of electronic circuits. This new device’s thickness has been reduced to 1/30th of its predecessor. It is thin enough to conform to contours of the skin on which it is applied and at the same time it is waterproof during the 2 weeks that it is believed to last on the skin. It get exfoliated usually after 2 weeks.

The technology is not ready for commercial production though. MC10 is still working on the wireless features that it wants to include to the device. It may not be ready any time soon but Roger and his team are working on refining the communication technology that it leverages. Once those technical problem are dealt with the chances are we are soon going to see commercials about the product.

Before this, research from the University of Toronto had invented a tiny health monitoring sensor which can also be attached to the arm with a temporary tattoo. The tattoo appears like a blue smiley face, it is designed like that for a reason. The eyes of the smiley are actually electrodes and they are used to record the pH of your skin while the ears are more like ports where the doctor can attach his device to extract the recorded data. This sensor can be used to measure metabolic stress in a person.

The university researchers that designed this device suggest in the future it can be used to detect whether or not an athlete is dehydrated or even clues to metabolic conditions like the Addison disease.

One can predict that in the near future, health sensors attached to the skin will have so many medical uses and probably most of us wouldn’t mind carrying one just like we are used to having phones in our pockets.

Researchers at the University of Toronto believe that improvement can be made on those devices to enable them to detect components of sweat. The changes in sodium, potassium and magnesium on the skin could be recorded and that may be of interest to researchers in cosmetology and medicine.

Would you mind having any of those skin sensor on you? Share your thought below.

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