Temp Tattoos Get Medical: Removable Diagnostic Patches

Seeing someone in a hospital bed after an illness or injury is hard enough, but the seemingly endless machines and monitors all over that person can be very alarming. A new kind of electronic skin patch can let doctors and hospitals monitor patients’ conditions without the need for all of that intrusive and scary machinery. The patches are similar to temporary tattoos, being simple to apply, non-invasive and totally removable. The Epidermal Electronic System would measure heart, brain and muscle activity and send the data to doctors wirelessly. Conveying the same information to docs currently requires a mess of wires, some intimidating beeping machinery and sloppy conductive gel.

The EES was developed by researchers at the University of Illinois who say that the sensors could be used for a wide variety of monitoring applications. Not just keeping track of muscle and heart activity – the patches can also be placed on a throat to read the wearer’s speech. In lab tests, the patch recognized the words being spoken by the patch wearer around 90% of the time. For now the EES is powered by integrated solar cells, but in the future as the system becomes more complex it may require inductive charging. However it’s powered, the awesome patch could go a long way toward making the hospital experience a little less scary.


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See more in Medical Marvels or under Science. August, 2011.