Electronic skin developed by scientists can monitor and display heart rate (VIDEO)

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We are now one step closer to becoming one with our smartphone after Japanese scientists developed a form of e-skin which creates digital displays on whichever body part you want.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed what they describe as an “ultrathin, ultraflexible, protective layer” which can be placed over human skin in the hope of developing sensors and displays to monitor health.

Previous attempts at creating e-skin usually fail due to a lack of flexibility since they’re either built on thin glass or are unable to survive the air due to the use of flexible organic devices.

The group created polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) and organic photodetectors (OPDs), which are thin enough to be attached to the skin and flexible enough to respond perfectly to body movement.

They’re also six times more energy efficient than previous ultrathin PLEDs.

To protect the electronics from oxygen and moisture in the air, the team of researchers have developed a “high-quality protective film”, which is less than two micrometers thick and shields the electrodes.

The film was made by alternating layers of inorganic (Silicon Oxynitrite) and organic (Parylene) material.

Another issue that needed to be tackled was the longevity of e-skin, which had previously only lasted a few hours. Scientists claim, however, that this new e-skin can last for several days.

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The details of their findings have been published in Science Advances with team lead Professor Takao Someya explaining they hope their technology will “enable creation of electronic skin displays of blood oxygen level, e-skin heart rate sensors for athletes, and many other applications.”

"What would the world be like if we had displays that could adhere to our bodies and even show our emotions or level of stress or unease?,” asked Someya. “In addition to not having to carry a device with us at all times, they might enhance the way we interact with those around us or add a whole new dimension to how we communicate."