[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Stamford-stretchy-sensor.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /](Photo: Nature) Here’s a stretchy polymer with the right stuff for wearables. It can stretch, wrinkle and heal like skin. It can be ‘healed’ if damaged. Most of all, according to the Chemical & Engineering News
article summarizing the Nature
letter (PDF link) authored by the Stanford University team, it “has an electronic performance on par with amorphous silicon, the material that’s used in transistor arrays that control liquid-crystal display pixels. And it maintains that electrical performance even when stretched to double its original size.” We have been following stretchy sensors for some years, highlighting the pioneering work of John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and his team, whose work has been commercially marketed through MC10 [our back file here]
, but the difference here is the process. Rogers and others have been meticulously building rigid sensors onto a rubbery material that has some ‘give’. In Rogers’ words, “Stretchy mechanics and efficient charge transport typically do not go together.” Bao’s group has developed “clever chemistries that seem to capture both properties in a single material.” Early days still, but tremendous potential in healthcare wearables for those who truly understand the technical aspects of this and develop accordingly. Hat tip to Jerry Kolosky of Panasonic via LinkedIn
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/USAF-sweat-sensor.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Call them ‘sticky sensors’, biosensor tattoos
or as you like, but there’s been a lot of research happening in the past three years around gathering biometrics from skin contact. Whether it’s the John Rogers ‘skunk works’
at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign measuring ECG, EEG and cardiovascular conditions; University of California-San Diego’s lactate
and blood glucose monitoring; MC10’s Biostamp
for infant temperature, head impacts and neurological disorders plus NewDealDesign
‘s multi-purpose implants, skin is in
. Though the Apple Watch
was flummoxed (for now) by biometrics due to hairy arms and sweat [TTA 18 Feb
], these sensors thrive on the latter. The US Air Force (USAF) Research Laboratory
has been working on sweat analytic sensors for some time now [TTA 24 Apr 14
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Baby_with_Biostamp.png” thumb_width=”180″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/MC10_Biostamp-small.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Perhaps we should be adding to our sidebar lexicon ‘conformal electronics’.
Boston-based wearable health technology developer MC10
is partnering with Brussels-based biopharmaceutical company UCB S.A.
to develop MC10’s Biostamp platform
for treating those with severe neurological disorders. MC10 developed a seamless, disposable sensing sticker with thin film batteries (right above) which is currently in use in the Reebok Checklight
to determine sports-related concussion risk [TTA 16 May
, “Brain Games”] and in beta for infant temperature sensing (left above). It seems clear from the announcement today and further remarks (see below) that the objective is not drug delivery, but for patient monitoring and disease management. MC10 commercializes John Rogers’
work in stretchable sensor patches and batteries [TTA 10 April
]. The Biostamp does not have FDA approval but the partnership may be a way to fast-track CE approval. MC10 release, Fast Company
(also reviews Proteus, Corventis, Given Imaging
with comments from Ben Schlatka, MC10 cofounder.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/skinpatch-1-John-Rogers.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] From the head researcher (John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) who brought you biodegradable implanted batteries and sensors [TTA 26 March], comes an almost tattoo-like stretchable sensor conforming to the skin which uses off-the-shelf, chip-based electronics for wireless monitoring. It is envisioned for wireless health tracking connecting to smartphones and computers, and for vital monitoring such as ECG and EEG testing, although this Editor would not use the term ‘clinical’ as Gizmodo has done (it is probably at the fairly sound level of an AliveCor.) However the article points out the advantages in long term use–adherence to skin is far more reliable, no dangling pendants or clunky bracelets, and it allows for multiple sensors to be worn comfortably. This type of patch would also be far kinder to the delicate skin of babies and the elderly. For them, it would make consistent long-term telehealth monitoring (e.g. blood pressure, ECG, O2, blood glucose) far easier over time. Perhaps the core of this is the PERS of the future with gait tracking and fall detection. Cost isn’t mentioned, but off the shelf elements undoubtedly are less expensive than custom/bespoke. Published in Science 4 April (abstract and summary; full text requires log in) Also see Editor Charles’ earlier take–maybe Mr. Rogers should speak to him!