Technology is rapidly evolving and integrating itself deeper into our daily lives. Immersive wearable gadgets like the Oculus Rift are making waves. Traditional accessories like the watch are being augmented with the latest sensor technology that tracks everything from blood pressure, to sleeping habits. It makes sense that one-day technology will be adapted onto the human body itself. Researchers at the University of Tokyo are introducing an advanced electronic display that attaches directly onto human skin, according to The Verge on April 15.
What is being called electronic skin or E-Skin is an ultra thin layer of plastic like material that is outfitted with an electronic display. The plastic is incredibly flexible and sticks right onto the skin. The wearable is able to last for days, which is an impressive breakthrough as previous iterations could only last a few hours. The enhanced duration is due to a special protective layer developed by researchers. This layer is able to keep oxygen and vapor out, protecting the more sensitive components within.
The possible uses for E-Skin are only limited by the imagination. They could be used to identify patients at hospitals along with any information relevant to their necessary care. Individuals could also use them aesthetically as temporary tattoos with intriguing designs that light up. Scientists have already developed a similar electronic skin that allows people who suffer from diabetes to measure their glucose levels and deliver the necessary dose of drugs, without the need for finger pricking. Professor Takao Someya, lead researcher at the University of Tokyo, told EurekAlert what he envisions for E-Skin.
“The advent of mobile phones has changed the way we communicate. While these communication tools are getting smaller and smaller, they are still discrete devices that we have to carry with us,” says Someya. He continues, “What would the world be like if we had displays that could adhere to our bodies and even show our emotions or level of stress or unease? In addition to not having to carry a device with us at all times, they might enhance the way we interact with those around us or add a whole new dimension to how we communicate.”
Electronic skin is still in the early stages of development, but as technology progresses it will become cheaper to produce and could eventually last months or years instead of days. Will people find the idea of wearing electronics directly on their skin off putting? Or will they find the convenience outweighs any negative aspects? Things that only used to be concepts in science fiction movies are slowly coming closer to fruition.