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Glueing a cell phone to your arm

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in cooperation with Northwestern University have found a way to stitch normal electronic components on a plastic bandage that can stick on skin, like a normal patch.
There are several studies on creating flexible electronics and I have posted news on several of them. Here the researchers are taking a different tack: using normal electronic components (that are available and very cheap) and mount them on a plastic layer with special connections that can bend so to adapt to skin movements.
The connections look like origami so that they can be stretched when the patch bends. They are embedded in two layers of plastic that are filled with a fluid (using the microfluidic approach). The chips are placed with the pins in contact with this inner fluidic layer where the wiring is sandwiched. 
The advantage of having a patch "glued" on the skin is that it moves with the skin so there is no relative motion between the sensors and the body, which is the case with sensors embedded in a wrist band. Here the relative motion introduces noise that affect the quality of the signal. By glueing several patches in different parts of the body it is possible to detect complex variations and perform a much more accurate analyses, like detection of the onset of Parkinson disease before the person shows any symptoms. A test showed that the signal accuracy compares to the one of a professionally executed EEG and EKG performed in the doctor’s studio.
The person does not perceive the patch(es) and this is important for monitoring stressful conditions, including insomnia, where the perception of a monitoring device would alter the result of the monitoring.
The patch is wirelessly powered, there is no need to charge it.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.