Researchers from Japan have unveiled a new technology that could turn the human body into a digital display screen - here's how.
What if you could monitor the oxygen level in your blood without drawing a single drop? According to a report from the BBC, a new technology developed by researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan could soon make this a reality.
A team of scientists has unveiled an ultra-thin electronic “skin” film that can monitor dissolved oxygen in the blood when attached to the outside of the body. The film, which is made of micro-electronic pieces that blink in red, blue and green provides accurate measurements of blood oxygen levels when fastened to the outside of the body.
The team says the hope to develop the technology to the point where the film could display numbers and letters to monitor other essential health readings. According to lead author Tomoyuki Yokota, “The device unobtrusively measures the oxygen concentration of blood when laminated on a finger. Ultimately, flexible organic optical sensors may be directly laminated on organs to monitor the blood oxygen level during and after surgery.”
The film is no more than two micrometers thick, and is made of alternating layers of Silicon Oxynitrite and Parylene, an inorganic and organic material, respectively. The protective layer of film keeps oxygen and water vapor from seeping out of the skin into the air, which allows researchers to use the device for several days. The e-skin display is powered by transparent indium tin oxide electrodes attached to the ultrathin substrate.
According to study co-author Takao Someya, the development could usher in a new era of medical technology. He likens the ultrathin monitor to mobile phones; as time goes on, the devices get smaller and smaller. By attaching the device directly to the body, the researchers have effectively eliminated the need for clunky devices that must be stored and carried, bringing advanced medical treatment to areas where it may have previously been unavailable.
A press release from the University of Tokyo describing the details of the study can be found here.