home
RSS
Electronic 'skin' can monitor your heart
August 11th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Electronic 'skin' can monitor your heart

Hospital monitoring devices are clunky and uncomfortable, with all of their wires and plugs like you'd see with any old machine. Heart disease patients sometimes have to wear monitors for a month or more. But now, a group of researchers is making health care electronics look and feel more like part of your own body.

A study in the journal Science demonstrates an extremely thin device that's like an electronic skin, which attaches to your own skin and measures vital signs. The device can check your heart rate, brain activity and muscle contractions, researchers say. Beyond that, there are many other applications, such as in physical rehabilitation and prosthetics.

"What we’ve been trying to do is to figure out how to make a class of electronics that is soft and curvilinear, stretchable and deformable like the skin, because if you could do that then you could very naturally integrate that kind of electronics with the surface of the skin," said John Rogers, co-author and professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The device stays on the skin somewhat like a temporary tattoo, researchers said. There is no sticky adhesive or pins involved; instead, the electronic skin attaches itself through weak forces of molecular attraction called van de Waals interactions. The thinness of the electronic skin helps it conform to the shape of human skin.

Because our skin continuously exfoliates skin cells, this device is  known to last only about two weeks before the skin cells holding on to it slough off. After that, the wearer should be aware of possible problems with the monitoring, Rogers said.

The foundation for most electronics is the silicon wafer, a brittle and fragile material that breaks if you drop it. But Rogers and colleagues engineered the silicon membrane of the electronic skin on the nanoscale; its thinness makes it very bendable and soft.

The device's circuitry is a "spider web" of materials: narrow snake-like silicon filaments that serve as wires connected to tiny sensors designed to monitor particular bodily functions.

Beyond monitoring, the device can take the body's signals and transfer them to machines in other ways - for instance, researchers demonstrated that the muscle contractions in the neck can control the mouse in a computer game. More practically, the device could be used to apply localized electrical stimulation or temperature changes across a wound, which could be part of a "smart bandage." And it could even have uses in prosthetic devices, allowing people to better control artificial limbs as if they were their own.

Researchers have not seen any adverse effects from wearing the device; in fact, Rogers himself was wearing it when we spoke. He can't guarantee that no one would have a skin-allergic reaction to the metals used in the device, although the dominant material is silicon and that does not typically cause reactions.

The company MC10, which Rogers co-founded, will release its very first application of this product in early 2012, Rogers said, with development support from Reebok. The specific purpose of it is top-secret, but it is a "sports monitoring device related to health," Rogers said.

Dr. Bruce Dobkin, professor of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study, is still skeptical of the device's stickiness to the skin during daily activities such as sweating and showering, but sees a lot of potential for it, especially in outpatient settings. Monitoring the effects of a drug on brain waves and looking for changes in elderly people's walking habits are just some of the possibilities.

"It’s a nice breakthrough, and I’m guessing that if it can be made to be worn on the body for days at a time, or changed each day by a person in a very simple way so that it functions reliably, I’m guessing it will find a lot of use," he said.


soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Paperwork

    I'm a RN in an ICU, and if we could get away from the spaghetti bowl of lines coming from EKG leads, O2 sensors BP monitors, ICP monitors, etc, that would certainly make the patients more comfortable and make it safer for them - I'd hate to do a time and motion study on how much time we spend per shift replacing leads, adjusting BP cuffs and putting pulse ox monitors back on the patients - or how many times I've almost broken my neck trying not to trip over or step on leads a patient has tossed around...Of course, the next question is, when the patient is wearing one of these and has an AICD pacemaker, or needs to be externally paced or defib'd, what happens to the wafer? Does it just stop working or does it melt? Would the application be more for something like a Holter monitor vs. an inpatient ICU admission?

    August 12, 2011 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bernadene Whitten

      As a retired nurse I can only say that I wish they had this when I was working. We did not have the mobile equipment they have today, but still with all t the lines hanging about it is only a matter of time that there is an unfortunate accident waiting to happen. The last time I was in the hospital for my heart condition it was very uncomfortable with all the lines. But something like this would be awesome to wear, and so comfortable, it would make it a much easier recovery for any patient.

      August 12, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Having been on the patient end of what Paperwork describes I can say that he/she is absolutely right. There is nothing comfortable about the monitoring and no matter how hard you try not to disturb the lines sooner or later you end up knocking something loose. I have also had to wear the clunky monitors for more than a month and found that to be one of the worst experiences of my life.

    This is a very cool development!!

    August 12, 2011 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. AYRIANA DAVIS

    I THINK THAT THIS IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST IN THE MAKING! IF ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BELIEVE IN GOD AND HIS SON, OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST...DO NOT GET THIS OR ANYTHING SIMILAR TO THIS! AMEN!

    August 12, 2011 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dw33z1L

      Are you serious? Really? Here we are in the 21st century, technology abounds to better mankind, yet religious zealots like yourself flinch because they think it's the mark of the beast? I tell you what, you and your kind can forego participating in using this sort of technology and live shorter more miserable lives. If this type of technology will better the human experience, I'm all for it. What might it do for pain management for burn victims at some later date? What might it do for the advancement of the myriad debilitating diseases we suffer (you know, the ones we are plagued with by the guy they write about in your dusty old book). Perhaps, this could become a very important tool in a more expedient cure for cancer or AIDS or Lou Gherig's Disease, or any number of other diseases. Yeah...you go ahead and remain afraid, with your head in the sand and your kind will slowly die off. The rest of us will embrace technology and continue advancing our species. That is, if religion doesn't cause us (the human race) to blow one another up first. If I were you, which thankfully, I am not; I would be far more afraid of what religion is doing to each other than what medical technology is providing. Don't even get me started on embryonic stem cell research... It's like arguing with a wall... By the way, I am an information security professional with 25 years of experience in the field of computer related security. While there are exploits available for anything digital (hell, just about anything period), I would surmise that this type of technology will be highly fortified with security. I am not scared.

      I will end with a simple exercise. Let's say you are a mother. Your child was horribly burned in a fiery auto accident and is in excruciating pain. A label similar to this becomes available that has the ability to significantly reduce her pain and speed her recovery. Would you allow it's use, or would you let your child suffer? Who becomes "Satan" now?

      August 12, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
    • One7777777

      "that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword"

      Take a LOOK at what the image is – the U.S. flag!!!!

      The WOUND is inflicted on the FIRST BEAST.

      The SECOND BEAST who rises will then try to make the people take a mark, which is an "image" dedicated to the FIRST BEAST.

      The pictures in the above articles clearly show the U.S. flag which implies:

      1) The USA is the First Beast
      2) We will be wounded (head wound which is crippling, even if not fatal).

      August 12, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
    • Miracle

      AMEN u are totally right the end is at the door people who deny it will see for there own eyes and when everything happens they will remeber this. All this whole nation has to do is REPENT. Total destuction is coming for this world because of all the sin. EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR. Repent and give urself to the Lord before its to late. I recommend these websites thetrumpet.com , jvim.com , and tomorrowsworld.org. All the poof is in the bible let God open ur mind so u can understand the devil have allmost everybody blind. So what do u think that electrionic skin monitor is to monitor the heart, Really?.

      August 12, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • Miracle

      To Dw33zlL first of all how dare you say ( the guy they write about in your dusty old books.) Who created you who formed you how did you came to be who created the human being?
      Oh yeah we came from apes is that what they say right of something else ha. You should be thankful to GOD thats his name GOD that you are alive can breath walk and do anything you can do. Yeah you go ahead and remain in your wickedness you think everything is gonna get better life is gonna go on and on mandkind will have a great future full of wonderful tecnology and stuff. You make me laugh so many people like you that deny ya dont want to face the fact the truth the reality. Man you guys are blind the devil yes the devil got u guys blind has gotten to your mind so you think us the christian the true church of GOD will (die off). On the contrary. Good for you continue not to be scared the time will come when all you will see God power and might and yes he is so REAL. This world this life has its END. A man is coming he is gonna put him self as head of everything he is gonna want people to adore him and put the mark or a micro chip with that mark inside and so many other horrible thing waiting to occur and its sooner than u think.GOD will always and shall ALLWAYS PREVAIL. ALL THE TRUTH IS IN THE BIBLE IN GOD WORD EVRTHING THAT IS IN THERE WILL OCCUR AND ALREADY OCCURING . And all those bad things happening are for a resean because the way this nation is all the sin and thing are gonna get worse. but no fear for the true people of God he will bring a new kingdow where he shall rule everything is gonna be alright with us. God will come to judge the world. What will u do or be doing when all this happens? Again i recommend these website to other people it has been a blessing for me check it out please jvim.com, tomorrowsworld.org, thetrupet.com. I praise my lord GOD allmighty and thank him for EVERTHING.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Truth Revealed

      Ayriana...... society has gotten away from anything biblical. There is a whole generation who knows nothing about the 666 mark of the beast (to be used as identification and commerce). This electronic skin (for medical application) is the beginning and they don't even know. Somebody ought to read Revelations...it's in there.

      August 12, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Myers

      Amen!!! I so agree!!!

      August 12, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Yes this is the Beginning of the mark of the Beast. I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO GET THIS OR ALLOW ANYONE TO USE THIS ON ME AT ALL I WILL MOST DEFFINATELY TELL THEM TO CHECK ME THE OLD FASHIONED WAY OR TO GET THEIR HANDS OFF ME IF THEY REFUSE THE WAY I SAY!!!! And TO YOU Dw33z1L If you keep thinking this way then you are in for a treat you will end up burning in Hell with Lucifer and all of his other followers I hope you enjoy that However I do not wish that on anyone what so ever so, I suggest you kneel down, sit down, or stand or whatever and bow your head right now and ask OUR GOD to FORGIVE your sins and ask him to come into your heart and all will be forgotten BUT YOU HAVE TO MEAN IT!!! God Loves you and will always love you Please do not ever forget that! I hope one day very soon you will understand that!!! I am homeless living in a motel and may soon be living on the streets I lost my babies a year ago my fiance` lost his boys the year before that we are going through horrible times right now but you know what We still Love the Lord. We may not go to church or believe in Organized religion but we are still Christians none the less and we still love the lord and always will. We all live in sin one way or another but at least I am not afaird to Say I Love You God and I love your Son Jesus Christ Also and I do feel the holy spirit inside my soul some days more then others but I know it is there and always will be! Thank you God for giving us all life and everything else in this world!!! PRAISE GOD PRAISE JESUS AND PRAISE THE HOLY SPIRIT!!!!

      August 12, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    I agree this is the starting of the mark of the Beast,It starts in the hospital then they will say this is good so we will make all the people do this and charge them to put the info on this a month to help pay for it

    August 12, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Killuminati

    Then there going to so you can't buy or sell good with it. Everything is going to revolve around that little chip, just wait the economy is crashing for a reason, its designed to be like this and when the dollar is finally useless what other than dahh dahh dah dahhhh. Sign up for ur rfid chips, come on kids even Lady gaga has one! Lmao

    August 12, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bill

    If these come off if on the surface, why not print them as metallic tattoos?

    Electronic tattoos would make ink tattoos look so primitive.

    August 12, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. BW84

    Dw33z1L:

    I got your back buddy, you're totally dead on. It's all that religious programming that's going to kill us all. God bless us everyone, broken people living under loaded gun.

    August 12, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Philip Mueller

    When I saw the bar code on the forehead and hand of that individual, my jaw dropped. I thought, Its the beginning of the end. Those unbelievers who mock us, call and ridicule the christians,:and call us crazy, but let them be as they will seal their own fate for eternaty. The only way to salvation for those who accept the bar code on their heads and hands can only be redeemed by the sheding of their own blood by accepting christ. One generation after Israel is reborn, so shall the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    August 12, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Godbwithus

    LETS OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH US IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES, MAY HE SEND HIS HOLY GHOST TO ENLIGHTEN THE PPL OF GOD ALL AROUND THE WORLD. THIS IS SLOWLY YET SURELY THE BEGINNING OF THE DIABOLICAL PLOT OF THE DEVIL. I URGE ALL THE PPL OF GOD TO STAY AWAKE, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO B DISTRACTED, AMEN!

    August 12, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kat

    Yes this is the Beginning of the mark of the Beast. I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO GET THIS OR ALLOW ANYONE TO USE THIS ON ME AT ALL I WILL MOST DEFFINATELY TELL THEM TO CHECK ME THE OLD FASHIONED WAY OR TO GET THEIR HANDS OFF ME IF THEY REFUSE THE WAY I SAY!!!! And TO YOU Dw33z1L If you keep thinking this way then you are in for a treat you will end up burning in Hell with Lucifer and all of his other followers I hope you enjoy that However I do not wish that on anyone what so ever so, I suggest you kneel down, sit down, or stand or whatever and bow your head right now and ask OUR GOD to FORGIVE your sins and ask him to come into your heart and all will be forgotten BUT YOU HAVE TO MEAN IT!!! God Loves you and will always love you Please do not ever forget that! I hope one day very soon you will understand that!!! I am homeless living in a motel and may soon be living on the streets I lost my babies a year ago my fiance` lost his boys the year before that we are going through horrible times right now but you know what We still Love the Lord. We may not go to church or believe in Organized religion but we are still Christians none the less and we still love the lord and always will. We all live in sin one way or another but at least I am not afaird to Say I Love You God and I love your Son Jesus Christ Also and I do feel the holy spirit inside my soul some days more then others but I know it is there and always will be! Thank you God for giving us all life and everything else in this world!!! PRAISE GOD PRAISE JESUS AND PRAISE THE HOLY SPIRIT!!!!

    August 12, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kat

    and if you think this is not "The Mark Of The Beast" Then why is this device "The specific purpose of it is top-secret" its top secret because he don't want you to know that it is The Mark Of The Beast because if you do know then no one will get it unless they are Lucifer Lovers!!!!!! So think about this and think real hard and pray about it, I am not going to pray about it Because I do not watch news and the Holy Spirit told me to watch the channel it showed it on and I didn't know why and this pops up it didn't say much so I googled it and found out all this wow Thank you God and Your Son and The Holy Spirit for showing this to me today I needed this!!!!

    August 12, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. AYRIANA DAVIS

    *~AMEN TO ALL OF GOD'S BELIEVERS!*~
    LOOKING AT ALL THE RESPONSES TO "Dw33zlL" WITH YOUR GODLY CONVICTIONS LET ME KNOW THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WORKING AND PRAISE BE TO GOD! STAY STRONG, KEEP READING, PRAYING , REPENTING, LOVING, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO JESUS RETURN!!

    August 12, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. AYRIANA DAVIS

    @DW33ZlL 1 JOHN 5: 1-11
    Faith in the Son of God

    Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ[a] has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
    6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross[b]—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses[c]—8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

    11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

    August 12, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Why

    I don't get this, this is going to help people going to help the world. But now people are going to say that this will be the bringing of the antichrist? Well I trust in the ancient astronaut theory, and I am glad that we are coming back onto this technology.

    August 13, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. KENYATTA

    And this is to my dear friend Ayriana davis you can lead a horse to water but these horses aren't thirsty yet but i promise you ALL when the truth comes out and our father returns for us YOU WILL HAVE TO ANSWER TO HIM 1 ON 1 cause he's on his way back .AMEN.

    August 13, 2011 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. PB

    AYRIANA DAVIS I think your 100% right , the man who modeled that thing has it right in the forehead and one in the wrist. Where did we here that before? God gave everybody free will , He showed us that by not nocking the fruit out of Adams hand. So Dw33z1L and that other idiot have every right to be morons and go straight to HELL.

    August 15, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. MC

    what is up with the mark of the best comments?!? It is a device to monitor the heart and might be applicable to other applications. But mark of the beast? I read the bible, I go to church, but seriously, arent you guys a lil paranoid?!? First of all, these things are not permanent, after 2 weeks its going to come off of your skin (I think when the bible talks about mark of the beast in revelation, it means a permanent mark dont you guys think?) 2nd of all, this article talks about patients with heart conditions aka heart monitoring.. If you have heart conditions or your family member does, then this is an alternative for you but if u dont, then why are you guys refusing to wear this kind of device when its main purpose is for that?!? If it goes to other applications then sure, be vigilant. But really, stop being so paranoid. I see a lot of hypocritical Christians, and Christians believing in things like the end of the world is happening in 2000, then last i heard a Christian group who believe the world is going to end in May this year... It is sad you know.. We are suppose to be the light and salt of the world, and if this is the kind of example we are setting for the world, then the world will just think Christians are just a bunch of crazies, hypocrites and paranoids..

    August 16, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.