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Skin chips: New electronic tattoo monitors vital signs

Researchers have developed a medical device which can measure a person’s blood flow, muscle movement, electrical signals and then send all of that very specific information back to a computer… wirelessly.

One of the researchers, Todd Coleman, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Illinois, says that this may be an important advance in wearable electronics for people. Information is the currency of modern medicine, according to a Time report on the innovative discovery, so the ultra-thin patch opens up many possibilities for medical research and can be used, almost without notice, on whomever is wearing the device. “The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels very comfortable,” says Coleman.

Known as “elastic electronics,” these unique devices are made of wavy little silicon structures which contain circuits that not only are smaller than a human hair, but they also bend and stretch with the body, according to the National Science Foundation article. “As the skin moves and deforms, the circuit can follow those deformations in a completely noninvasive way,” says John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign who was also a part of the team. He envisions the elastic electronics opening an entire range of what he terms “bio-integrated” medical devices.