Electronic skin – Health monitoring skin patch capable of administering drugs automatically
Korean researchers have developed a wearable sensor device called Electronic Skin which is capable of monitoring and treating muscle disorders in people suffering from Parkinson or epilepsy. This wearable health monitoring device looks like a small adhesive bandage that has nano-circuitry embedded over it. As described in a paper published on this nanotechnology monitor, this small adhesive bandage can be worn on the wrist, as it continuously monitors physiological activity for one week and then the medication embedded in a silica interface is automatically administered through this flexible electronic device by diffusion-driven release of drug molecules through the skin. The silicon nanomemebrane sensors detect changes in electrical resistance to indicate a fast tremor or certain problem with the patient wearing it.
Nanoparitcles hold the drug inside this electronic sensor and after monitoring the health administer it through the skin by diffusing the molecules.
Nano-membranes are fabricated with a top-down approach on the tissue-like polymeric substrate which can have physiological sensors, non-volatile memory and drug-release actuators. The electronic bandage is 4cm long, 2 cm wide and 0.003 cm thick making it ideal for monitoring health problems without much hassle or discomfort. The data of high/low resistance states is recorded on a memory system made up of cells 30 nanometers thick and the data can be accessed by RFID tagging or simply uploading it to a smartphone.
According to Mechanical engineer Nanshu Lu from the University of Texas-Austin, who is co-author of this study, the wearable device only works when it is connected to a power source and prototypes for the same are also being developed in conjunction with the further development of electronic health monitoring bandage.
While the ultimate goal of Electronic Skin wearable technology is to bring comfortable health monitoring and stimulation of body muscles so as to provide a very precise and less invasive medical treatment. Other versions of this nanoparticle bandaid will have temperature sensors, heart rate monitors, blood oxygen level measuring sensors etc.
The device will be available in around 5 years’ time and it could be powered by a smartwatch or a standalone battery source that could be embedded into the electronic skin patch.