A new ultrathin, elastic display that fits snugly on the skin can show the moving waveform of an electrocardiogram recorded by a breathable, on-skin electrode sensor.
Thanks to advances in semiconductor technology, wearable devices can now monitor health by first measuring vital signs or taking an electrocardiogram, and then transmitting the data wirelessly to a smartphone. The readings or electrocardiogram waveforms can be displayed on the screen in real time, or sent to either the cloud or a memory device where the information is stored.
The newly-developed skin electronics system aims to go a step further by enhancing information accessibility for people such as the elderly or the infirm, who tend to have difficulty operating and obtaining data from existing devices and interfaces. It promises to help ease the strain on home healthcare systems in aging societies through continuous, non-invasive health monitoring and self-care at home.
The new integrated system combines a flexible, deformable display with a lightweight sensor composed of a breathable nanomesh electrode and wireless communication module. Medical data measured by the sensor, such as an electrocardiogram, can either be sent wirelessly to a smartphone for viewing or to the cloud for storage. In the latest research, the display showed a moving electrocardiogram waveform that was stored in memory.
In Chen Qiufan's 2019 novel Waste Tide, young people enjoy implanting OLED body films, the distant descendants of today's skin electronics:
[Kaizong] couldn't understand the young men in the streets who applied polyimde OLED body film to their bared shoulders so that the electrical currents flowing through their muscles could power the colorful display of flowing text and images. In America, that kind of body film technology was generally used as diagnostic tool for monitoring patients bio signs. But here, it had become a part of the street culture of status display.
(Read more about OLED body films)