With This Electronic "Tattoo," We Just Hit the Next Wave of Wearables

Source: University of Tokyo

Your smartwatch, smart glasses and smart blanket are all lame and old now. A lab in Tokyo built an electronic "tattoo" that turns your skin into a screen.

Engineers from the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering are calling their creation "e-skin." According to a paper published in the journal Science Advances, the tattoo is an extremely thin film that lays over your skin and looks a lot like those "tattoo" bandages for kids — that is, if those bandages could monitor bio-diagnostics like heart rate and blood-oxygen levels.

According to the study, the device, an ultra-flexible combination of silicon, polymer LEDs and an organic material called Parylene, can measure what's happening inside your body. Because it's relatively cheap, it can be worn for a period, disposed of and replaced.

If e-skin goes to market, it has the potential to change hospital visits. Instead of being hooked up to a bunch of monitors, doctors could just laminate your skin with a little film that would take your diagnostics, allowing you to move freely. 

People with diabetes or high blood pressure could have a real-time monitor without the pokes and pricks. Your phone's bio-monitors would be put out to pasture. And e-skin could give the DIY cyborg set, the folks who want to know more about their insides, more opportunities to self-assess without scalpels touching their skin.

"The advent of mobile phones has changed the way we communicate," said the University of Tokyo's Takao Someya, according to Newsweek. "What would the world be like if we had displays that could adhere to our bodies and even show our emotions or level of stress of unease?"

It would mean less time spent hooked up to monitors and more time living your life, that's for damn sure.

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Max Plenke

Max Plenke is a staff writer at Mic, where he covers breaking news, climate science, health and the future. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ and Wallpaper. Send story tips to max@mic.com.

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