So I know that technology is moving at the speed of light these days, but this is just too much. It turns out that pretty soon, we might be able to have a phone at our fingertips…literally.
Research by John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois, has woven the technological building blocks of microprocessors into insanely thin, skin-wearable circuits that stamp onto your skin and can stretch and flex with natural body movements, lasting about two weeks until they flake off from natural exfoliation.
“Our aim is to enable hardware that integrates much more naturally with the body,” Rogers told Co.Design. “Conventional hard electronics, built on silicon wafers in the usual way, are unacceptable for generalized, everyday continuous use and monitoring, due to extreme mismatches in shape, weight and stiffness from tissues of the body.”
By modifying electronics to live on our skin, Rogers can seamlessly measure ECGs, EEGs, temperature, mechanical stress, and galvanic skin measurements. If the Nike+ Fuelband were reimagined with this technology, for instance, it could measure your heart rate, body impact and hydration levels, from which it could reason a slew of performance metrics.
According to the Co.Design article, Roger’s “20-year vision” is to create devices that “actively augment health in vital organs.” One project his team is working on is an “artificial epicardium,” which could wrap around the heart’s surface to monitor heartbeat and prevent arrhythmias. Another is a set of “brain monitoring sheets” for epileptics.
The technology is still a few years off but Rogers’s company, MC10, will release its first commercial product, the CheckLight, with Reebok later this year. It fits into a soft skullcap to measure impacts during sports (as an early warning sign of concussions.)
Anyone else’s mind blown by these developments?