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Body sensors have long been bulky, hard to wear, and obtrusive. Now they can be as thin as a Band-Aid and about as big as a coin. The new sensors, created by Kyung-In Jang, professor of robotics engineering at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, and John A. Rogers, Northwestern University, consists of a silicone case that contains “50 components connected by a network of 250 tiny wire coils.” The silicone conforms to the body and transmits data on “movement and respiration, as well as electrical activity in the heart, muscles, eyes and brain.”
This tiny package replaces many bulky sensor systems and because the wires are suspended in the silicone you are able to create a denser electronic. From the release:
Unlike flat sensors, the tiny wires coils in this device are three-dimensional, which maximizes flexibility. The coils can stretch and contract like a spring without breaking. The coils and sensor components are also configured in an unusual spider web pattern that ensures “uniform and extreme levels of stretchability and bendability in any direction.” It also enables tighter packing of components, minimizing size. The researchers liken the design to a winding, curling vine, connecting sensors, circuits and radios like individual leaves on the vine.
The researchers can power the device wirelessly which means it can sit almost anywhere on the body. Further, the team expects to be able to use this system inside of robotics where a softer, squishier connector is needed.
“Combining big data and artificial intelligence technologies, the wireless biosensors can be developed into an entire medical system which allows portable access to collection, storage, and analysis of health signals and information,” said Jang. “We will continue further studies to develop electronic skins which can support interactive telemedicine and treatment systems for patients in blind areas for medical services such as rural houses in mountain village.”