Wearable electronics are quickly making their way into the health industry. The trouble is, you’d probably have to explain to the curious just what it is that you’re wearing. And since it’s for health reasons, you’d probably wind up explaining your ailments to the world.
Even so, the idea is kinda cool. It’s also almost here. A skin-like wearable electronics project, a collaboration between the Department of Energy in the United States and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, could soon be the answer to discrete wearables.
The skin-like device could soon monitor a person’s health, including the onset of heart disease, cancer, and sclerosis. Wireless transmission technology tracks and analyses personal health data to predict illness before a person starts feeling symptoms. The diagnoses for different people with similar symptoms differ based on personal information including age, and medical history.
“Such a diagnosis, with health information being continuously gathered over an extended period, is very data-intensive,” says Sihong Wang, assistant professor at and project lead at UChicago PME. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the device matches a person’s particular brain patterns against data sets.
A thin neuromorphic chip, which looks like skin, is made from a thin film of plastic semiconductors and stretchable gold nanowire. The semiconductors make it more flexible, allowing it to stretch to twice its normal size. This arrangement is then worn as a sensor, facilitating the AI-based health tracking in development.
“While still requiring further development on several fronts, our device could one day be a game changer in which everyone can get their health status in a much more effective and frequent way,” says Wang.