Skin-like electronics could monitor your health continuously

Flexible, wearable electronics are making their way into everyday use, and their full potential is still to be realized. Soon, this technology could be used for precision medical sensors attached to the skin, designed to perform health monitoring and diagnosis. It would be like having a high-tech medical center at your instant beck and call.

Such a skin-like device is being developed in a project between the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME). Leading the project is Sihong Wang, assistant professor in UChicago PME with a joint appointment in Argonne’s Nanoscience and Technology division.

Worn routinely, future wearable electronics could potentially detect possible emerging health problems — such as heart disease, cancer or multiple sclerosis — even before obvious symptoms appear. The device could also do a personalized analysis of the tracked health data while minimizing the need for its wireless transmission. ​“The diagnosis for the same health measurements could differ depending on the person’s age, medical history and other factors,” Wang said. ​“Such a diagnosis, with health information being continuously gathered over an extended period, is very data intensive.”

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