Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed smart wearable patch that can be worn like a band-aid. Their innovation, called ElectroDermis, represents new advances in electronic skin patches that are stretchy and conform to the body. The device can be used for a variety of medical, fitness, or lifestyle purposes.
“We envision a future where electronics can be temporarily attached to the body, but in functional and aesthetically pleasing way,” wrote the researchers.
The project is a combined effort from engineers at Carnegie Mellon’s Soft Machines Lab and Morphing Matter Lab.
For the developers of wearable devices, the challenge has been finding a way to make these devices flexible. But the research team led by Eric Markvicka and Guanyun Wang, wanted to make a more complicated device, which involves components for signal processing, wireless communication and power. The CMU researchers made the wiring from copper sheets cut in a wavy form to make them bend more easily.
“Specifically, we achieve high functionality by discretizing rigid print circuit boards into individual islands,” the researchers explained. “The islands are then assembled on a spandex-blend fabric to increase robustness and reusability.”
They also concocted a multilayered fabrication method by putting fabric over TPU film, copper trace, z-tape, electrical components, and skin adhesive. This gives the wearer full mobility and makes it possible for the piece to be reusable, as the adhesive layer can simply be replaced.
ElectroDermis patches can be made in less than an hour and last on the body for hours or days.
The scientists say their new device could be applied to monitor vital signs, track fitness markers, measure food consumption or make a smart wound healing bandage.