Ultra-thin "Apple Watch"? US researchers develop electronic tattoos that monitor the heart

ByJoe Horner 2019-06-24 575

The introduction of Apple Watch Series 4 over the past year has made consumer wearable electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) monitoring devices more and more common, but this is not the end of the development of heart monitors. Sensors implanted in other parts of your body can achieve more continuous, accurate and reliable monitoring. Today, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a lightweight, retractable "electronic tattoo" that can be affixed to the surface of the heart and generate both ECG (ECG) and heart vibrator (SCG) readings.

 electronic tattoo

Ultra-thin and stretchable electronic tattoo

For several years, lead researcher Nanshu Lu has been working on so-called electronic tattoos, and his team's major new innovations have made the typical rigid heart vibrator (SCG) sensor ultra-thin, stretch, and highly fit the wearer's chest. Electronic tattoos are not thick sheets, but are made of a conductive plastic material called polyvinylamide, which is only 28 microns thick, or 0.028 millimeters thick.

Electronic tattoo make the health data more accurate

The real-time data of heartbeat and chest motion can be obtained by combining ECG (ECG) and cardiogram (SCG) sensor. Just as the seismograph detects the vibration of the earth, the cardiogram detects the vibration of the chest and can obtain more accurate data directly from the surface of the heart. Nanshu Lu explained that it was possible to gain a deeper understanding of heart health than just ECG (ECG), which synchronously collected ECG (ECG) and cardiogram (SCG) data.

Small and convenient

Nanshu Lu's detection system, powered by a mobile phone, ensures continuous monitoring of the wearer's heart for several days after each charge, and its data can be tracked and presented in real time on a prototype application. The electronic tattoo is serpentine and does not need adhesive tape to fix it. It only occupies a space the size of 63.5 mm by 38.1 mm.


At present, researchers are working to improve the ability of the electronic tattoo to collect and store data, and how to extend the wireless life. If these problems can be solved, for wearable heart monitors, traditional sultry and uncomfortable chest electrodes, and even cutting-edge commercial ECG (ECG) monitoring devices, will soon become too large and inconvenient.

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