Image source: 2018 Takao Someya Research Group

Japanese scientists develop ultra-thin elastic skin display

A team of Japanese researchers have developed an ultra-thin, highly elastic skin display that is capable of showing off your heartbeat and other vitals stats in real-time.

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The University of Tokyo scientists came up with a design that blends a breathable nanomesh electrode, stretchable wiring and an array of 16 x 24 micro LEDs. The display is only about 1 millimeters thick so fits snugly onto the skin. While we’ve seen stretchable displays before, this one is more robust and can withstand repeated stretching by as much as 45% without any loss in function.

“Our skin display exhibits simple graphics with motion,” said Prof Takao Someya who led the research.

“Because it is made from thin and soft materials, it can be deformed freely.”

The band-aid-like device is wirelessly connected to an electrocardiogram which can monitor the user’s heartbeat in realtime. There is also a wireless communication module on board, for transmitting biometric data to the cloud.

japanese scientists develop ultra thin elastic skin display - Japanese scientists develop ultra-thin elastic skin display
Image source: 2018 Takao Someya Research Group

Slapped onto the palm or back of a hand, this technology could prove to be very useful for hospitals and home care patients. Not having to hook patients up to bulky monitoring devices would alleviate some of the discomfort and would allow doctors and family members to know at a glance whether the user is in need of help. It would also help the elderly who may have difficulties obtaining data from existing devices and interfaces.

“The current ageing society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals in order to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care,” adds Someya.

“Our system could serve as one of the long-awaited solutions to fulfil this need, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life for many.”

If all goes well, the skin display will be brought to market within the next three years. With its rapidly ageing population, the device could prove particularly useful in Japan.

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