Skin Patch Makes Health Monitoring Easier

A simple, ultra-thin skin patch could help doctors monitor patients around the clock.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have proven that the patch, which moves with the skin and has electronic chips, is as effective as EKG and EEG testing.

According to the researchers, the patches have a “microfluidic” construction with wires folded like origami to allow the patch to bend and flex. The patches could be used for daily health tracking by wirelessly sending updates.

 “We designed this device to monitor human health 24/7, but without interfering with a person’s daily activity,” said Yonggang Huang, the Northwestern University professor who co-led the work with Illinois professor John A. Rogers. “What is very important about this device is it is wirelessly powered and can send high-quality data about the human body to a computer, in real time.”

The researchers did a side-by-side comparison with traditional EKG and EEG monitors and found the patch did just as well as conventional sensors, while being significantly more comfortable. That’s crucial for long-term monitoring, situations such as stress tests or sleep studies, because the outcome depends on the patient’s ability to move and behave naturally, or for patients with fragile skin such as premature newborns.

The design was published in the journal Science.


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