Pretty soon, you could stick your mobile onto your skin

08/17/2011 15:56

Times of India: It may soon be possible to wear your computer or mobile phone under your sleeve, with the invention of an ultra-thin and flexible electronic circuit that can be stuck to the skin like a temporary tattoo.

The devices, which are almost invisible, can perform just as well as more conventional electronic machines but without the need for wires or bulky power supplies, scientists said. The development could mark a new era in consumer electronics. The technology could be used for applications ranging from medical diagnosis to covert military operations.

The "epidermal electronic system" relies on a highly flexible electrical circuit composed of snake-like conducting channels that can bend and stretch without affecting performance. The circuit is about the size of a postage stamp, is thinner than a human hair and sticks to the skin by natural electrostatic forces rather than glue.

"We think this could be an important conceptual advance in wearable electronics, to achieve something that is almost unnoticeable to the wearer. The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels comfortable," said Professor Todd Coleman of the University of Illinois, who led the research team.

Tests have already shown that such a system can be used to control a voice-activated computer game, and one suggestion is that a stickon voicebox circuit could be used in covert police operations where it might be too dangerous to speak into a radio transmitter.

"The blurring of electronics and biology is really the key point here," said Yonggang Huang, professor of engineering at Northwestern University in Illinois.

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