Temporary smart tattoos, like Microsoft Research's Tattio concept, have been popping up in research stories more and more often this year. Joining them is this stick-on, nanotech tattoo, developed at Tel Aviv University and designed to be worn on the face.
Why? Well, firstly for the potential medical applications. The wearable, created by Professor Yael Hanein at the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, can measure the activity of muscle and nerve cells while patients go about their day. The alternative is confining them to lie down for hours on end in a lab, with cold, sticky gels and irritating surface electrodes.
The stick-on uses a carbon electrode and a nanotech, conductive polymer coating to boost its performance, as well as an adhesive surface to attach the electronics to the wearer's skin.
What's also interesting is that the smart tattoo can be used to read facial expressions and map the wearer's emotions. It's able to do this by analysing the electrical signals received by muscles in the face and it can be worn for hours on end.
"The ability to identify and map people's emotions has many potential uses," said Prof. Hanein. "Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals, and others — all want to test people's reactions to various products and situations. Researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software. But our skin electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution."
Tel Aviv Medical Center now plans to use the temp tattoo to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. According to Professor Hanein, it could also be an aid in improving muscle control for people who have suffered brain or stroke injuries or as a means for amputees to control artifcial limbs.