Put your vital signs on show with this ultrathin, stick-on skin display

A skin-on display could tell help tell people about your vitals.

Image: Takao Someya Research Group

There’s a glut of devices out there designed to tell all sorts of things about your bodies, but few you’d want stuck to your body for very long.

Perhaps with that in mind, engineering researchers at the University of Tokyo and Dai Nippon Printing have developed an ultrathin display which sticks to skin.

It’s made up of a 16×24 array of micro LEDs, stretchable wiring, all mounted onto a rubber sheet. Researchers say the display will last on your skin for a week without causing inflammation. 

Image: Takao Someya Research Group.

Of course, it isn’t the first stretchable display around. What researchers say makes this different is its durability on skin, claiming it can be expanded up to 45 percent more than its original length.

While you might be tempted to use the display to check your notifications, it’s intended for use in healthcare.

The display is hooked up to an electrocardiogram, which displays information about a person’s heartbeat in real time. Also connected to the system is a wireless communication module, which can send those vital signs to the cloud or a device, potentially for a doctor to monitor.

For researchers, the system helps the infirmed or elderly monitor their health without the need for fiddling with other devices. Given Japan’s rapidly aging population, such a system could make life for carers a lot easier.

“The current aging society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals in order to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care,” the project’s lead, Professor Takao Someya, said in a statement. 

“Our system could serve as one of the long-awaited solutions to fulfill this need, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life for many.”

Dai Nippon Printing is looking to bring the display to market within three years, but will first need to improve the structure’s reliability and see if it can be produced at mass scale.

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