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Health
Temporary Tattoos That Could Save Your Life
August 14, 2011
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In the future, hospital stays may no longer involve wires, prodding, poking, and getting connected to large monitoring machines. University of Illinois researchers have created a wearable electronic skin patch which is no more invasive than a temporary tattoo. And yet, they say it's powerful enough to monitor muscle activity, heart activity or even brain waves in real time without bulky medical equipment.

The device is mounted on a thin sheet of plastic and then laminated onto the skin with water. It bends, stretches and wrinkles like skin, so movement won't cause it to break or fall off. And it's also comfortable enough that researchers believe it will enable them to monitor brain function in a way that's never been possible.

If all this sounds a little like science fiction, the researchers behind it aren't doing much to defuse the idea. Another possible application for the technology is allowing "patients wearing neck patches to communicate with robots," who can then translate the movements of their throat muscles into speech. Whatever happens, this might be the invention that finally changes the meaning of the phrase "band-aid solution."

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