Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Hi-Tech 'Tattoo' Will Monitor Patients' Vital Signs

Hi-Tech 'Tattoo'Monitoring a patient’s vital signs - such as temperature and heart rate - could soon be a simple as sticking on a tiny, wireless patch similar to a temporary tattoo.

Eliminating the bulky wiring and electrodes used in current monitors would make the devices more comfortable for patients, according to an international team of researchers who report their findings in today’s edition of the journal Science.

The researchers embedded electronic sensors in a film thinner than the diameter of a human hair, which was placed on a polyester backing like those used for the temporary tattoos popular with children.

The result was a sensor that was flexible enough to move with the skin and would adhere without adhesives. The researchers said the test devices had remained in place for up to 24 hours.

Although normal shedding of skin cells would eventually cause the monitors to come off, the team believe the new device could remain in place for as long as two weeks.

'What we are trying to do here is to really reshape and redefine electronics to look a lot more like the human body, in this case the surface layers of the skin,' said John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois.

'The goal is really to blur the distinction between electronics and biological tissue.'

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