'Electronic Skin' Developed for Monitoring Patients

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A new electronic device is being called a medical breakthrough.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a device somewhat like "electronic skin." It's hair-thin and attaches to your own skin like a tattoo.

The monitor looks rather like a bandage and contains an antenna that could be used to transmit data, though a radio to do that transmitting has not yet been tested.

The device can be used to measure vital signs, like heart rate, brain activity and muscle contractions. It also allows users to operate machinery remotely by sending signals from the body.

An international team of researchers say eliminating the bulky wiring and electrodes used in current monitors would make the devices more comfortable for patients.

The team reported their findings in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"What we are trying to do here is to really reshape and redefine electronics. to look a lot more like the human body, in this case the surface layers of the skin," said John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois. "The goal is really to blur the distinction between electronics and biological tissue."

Researchers also hope that eventually the device could be used for sub-vocal communication in covert operations.

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