Smart tattoos sound incredibly Blade Runner, but already they're starting to manifest, and one day could even replace your fitness tracker. That's certainly the idea behind this wearable sensor developed by scientists at the University of Tokyo.
The team built sensors into a lightweight nanoscale mesh which is comfortable to wear and, importantly, totally flexible. The stretchy material can be safely worn on human skin for long periods of time, meaning it could be used to monitor someone's health in many number of ways.
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When the mesh is applied to the skin, a small amount of water needs to be applied which causes it to closely mold to the shape of the surface. The material was found to be more breathable than other materials like rubber, and caused zero skin irritation on the test subjects over the course of a week.
Worn on the skin, the tattoo-like electronic structure could monitor vital signs, and would be a hell of a lot more comfortable than any other type of wearable. Not only could it monitor things for patients like temperature and pressure, it could be used by athletes to keep a closer eye on their performance.
However, whether it would also be as durable in practice is another matter. You can read more in the paper itself, which is published here.