Someday soon, hospital patients won’t be hooked up to wires and monitors -- instead, electronic patches will be temporarily tattooed onto their bodies. Doctors will be able to monitor their vital signs without poking and prodding, and patients wearing neck patches will even be able to communicate with robots, who will translate throat muscle movements into simple speech.A new electronic skin patch, no more invasive than a temporary tattoo, marks a major breakthrough in human-machine interfaces. Tiny semiconductor circuits that stretch with the skin could be rubbed onto a person’s skin to monitor muscle activity, heart activity or even brain waves in real time without using bulky medical equipment.
The epidermal electronic circuit is initially mounted on a super-thin sheet of soluble plastic and laminated onto the skin with water, just like a temporary tattoo. Once it’s on, it can bend, wrinkle and stretch along with a wearer’s skin — it doesn’t pop off or snap, which is no small feat considering this is a high-performance semiconductor. When it’s no longer needed, it peels off like a layer of sunburned skin. Check out the video below to see this in action.