Electronic skins might not only detect health troubles in the near future, but display them for the world to see. University of Tokyo researchers have developed an e-skin that can measure vital signs like your heartbeat and display them in real time on a skin display. The design blends a breathable nanomesh electrode and stretchable wiring with an array of micro LEDs that can output basic images bending with your body. Others know right away if you need help -- they'd just have to look at your hand (or anywhere else the sensor works) to get an idea of what's wrong. The sensor can pair with a smartphone and transmit its info to the cloud, too.
There have been stretchable displays before, but they typically fall apart quickly after exposure to air and the usual stretching and twisting of your skin. The sensor itself lasts for about a week without inflammation, too, and was built using conventional circuit board manufacturing techniques that should keep the cost down.
This isn't just a theoretical exercise. Dai Nippon Printing hopes to offer the skin within the next 3 years by making it more reliable, scaling production and improving its coverage for large surface areas. Should all go well, it could be particularly helpful for home care patients. Rather than having to wear a bulky device that requires close inspection, they could broadcast their health status to family members and carry on with their lives relatively unhindered.