The meeting point between technology and health is creating revolutions – none more prevalent than the wearable, flexible electronics that track key areas of your health. When hearing the words temporary tattoo, most minds flashback to a scruffy Spiderman sticker slapped mid-way down a Child’s forearm. But a small few picture a small electronic patch that has both the ability to read key data from the body but also to transmit it.
These semiconductor wafers are around the thickness of a human hair. The team behind this work is led by a Professor Todd Coleman who, in a speech at the famous ‘Ted talks’, shed some light on what can only be described as a potentially groundbreaking development. He used the example of a lady in the late stages of pregnancy in a high risk category. This put simply meant that many things could go wrong and hence a constant stream of tests would be required to ensure the highest likelihood of a positive outcome. One of the biggest problems in hospitals worldwide is capacity to house patients and demand.The somewhat brilliant solution that this technology is offering is the ability to monitor a patient in many of the same ways you would in a hospital but from a remote location, such as their own homes. It offers an alternative for a patient who otherwise may be hospitalised for an exceedingly long duration.
Hearing the words temporary tattoo, most minds flashback to a scruffy Spiderman sticker mid-way down a Child’s forearm, few picture a small electronic patch that has both the ability to read data from the body but also to transmit it.
The problems that Coleman himself has addressed include, patient privacy and a trust in health care professionals. With data protection becoming an increasing issue would people be willing to trust this type of constant personal data flow? Seemingly, these are issues that have been worked on and precautions have been put in place to minimise the likelihood of hackers. Yet it is easy to see where concerns may come from, if there is a digital file floating around that could essentially show the exact physical state you are in at this moment in time.
However, from pregnancy to chronic disease, this small piece of innovation has had many clinical applications already and the potential for further still. It comes from a combination of medicine, maths and creativity leading to analytic algorithms that measure human vitals from just a small patch of skin. This development may well be one of the key advancements in medical technology of our generation.
Last modified: 15th February 2017