Researchers at UT Austin have designed a device that can measure both the electrical and mechanical pulses of the heart using a sensor so thin and stretchable they're calling it an "electronic tattoo."
The sensor, which is smaller than a credit card and thinner than a human hair, is attached to a person’s chest using medical tape. To read the data, the device must be physically connected by a wire to a computer. Researchers in the same UT lab are working on making it wireless and integrated with a smartphone.
The researchers published their work in the journal Advanced Science. Lead author Taewoo Ha said a similar e-tattoo already exists for electrocardiogram sensors that measure only the electrical pulses of the heart, but this is the first e-tattoo that can also measure the mechanical pulses. He says that data is important to find abnormalities like heart murmurs, and the combination of these two measures can help estimate blood pressure.
When compared to conventional bulkier sensors, the e-tattoo picks up less noise when the wearer is moving around, making it more accurate.
In the future, these sensors could be used on babies who need monitoring.
“Babies have very sensitive skin to other types of sensors,” Ha said. “So, if we can attach these e-tattoo-like sensors that are comfortable compared to other conventional sensors so they may not feel any obstructiveness.”