Uninterrupted heart monitoring for days with new E-tatoo

via University of Texas at Austin

The leading cause of death in Texas is heart disease, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, accounting for more than 45,000 deaths statewide in 2017. A new wearable technology made from stretchy, lightweight material could make heart health monitoring easier and more accurate than existing electrocardiograph machines — a technology that has changed little in almost a century.

Developed by engineers at The University of Texas at Austin and led by Nanshu Lu in the Cockrell School of Engineering, this is the latest incarnation of Lu’s electronic tattoo technology, a graphene-based wearable device that can be placed on the skin to measure a variety of body responses, from electrical to biomechanical signals.

The research team reported on their newest e-tattoo in a recent issue of Advanced Science.

The device is so lightweight and stretchable that it can be placed over the heart for extended periods with little or no discomfort. It also measures cardiac health in two ways, taking electrocardiograph and seismocardiograph readings simultaneously. Most of us are familiar with the electrocardiogram (ECG), a method that records the rates of electrical activity produced each time the heart beats. Seismocardiography (SCG) is a measurement technique using chest vibrations associated with heartbeats. Powered remotely by a smartphone, the e-tattoo is the first ultrathin and stretchable technology to measure both ECG and SCG.

“We can get much greater insight into heart health by the synchronous collection of data from both sources,” said Lu, an associate professor in the departments of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering.

ECG readings alone are not accurate enough for determining heart health, but they provide additional information when combined with SCG signal recordings. Like a form of quality control, the SCG indicates the accuracy of the ECG readings.

Although soft e-tattoos for ECG sensing are not new, other sensors, such as the SCG sensor, are still made from nonstretchable materials, making them bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Lu and her team’s e-tattoo is made of a piezoelectric polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride, capable of generating its own electric charge in response to mechanical stress. The device also includes 3D digital image correlation technology that is used to map chest vibrations in order to identify the best location on the chest to place the e?tattoo.

The e-tattoo has another advantage over traditional methods. Usually an ECG measurement requires going into a doctor’s office, where heart health can be monitored only for a couple of minutes at a time. This device can be worn for days, providing constant heart monitoring.

Lu and her team are already working on improvements to data collection and storage for the device, as well as ways to power the e-tattoo wirelessly for longer periods. They recently developed a smartphone app that not only stores the data safely but can also show a heart beating on the screen in real time.

Learn more: New E-Tattoo Enables Accurate, Uninterrupted Heart Monitoring for Days

 

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Nanotech “Tattoo” Can Map Emotions, Monitor Muscle Activity and Much More

via Tel Aviv University

via Tel Aviv University

Novel skin electrode is comfortable and has endless commercial and medical applications, says TAU researcher

A new temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University that can measure the activity of muscle and nerve cells researchers is poised to revolutionize medicine, rehabilitation, and even business and marketing research.

The tattoo consists of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance. It records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.

The electrode, developed by Prof. Yael Hanein, head of TAU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, may improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue — and may even lead to new insights into our emotional life.

Prof. Hanein’s research was published last month in Scientific Reports and presented at an international nanomedicine program held at TAU.

“Stick it on and forget about it”

One major application of the new electrode is the mapping of emotion by monitoring facial expressions through electric signals received from facial muscles. “The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” said Prof. Hanein. “Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals, and others — all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations. Today, with no accurate scientific tools available, they rely mostly on inevitably subjective questionnaires.

“Researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software,” Prof. Hanein continued. “But our skin electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution.”

The device was first developed as an alternative to electromyography, a test that assesses the health of muscles and nerve cells. It’s an uncomfortable and unpleasant medical procedure that requires patients to lie sedentary in the lab for hours on end. Often a needle is stuck into muscle tissue to record its electrical activity, or patients are swabbed with a cold, sticky gel and attached to unwieldy surface electrodes.

“Our tattoo permits patients to carry on with their daily routines, while the electrode monitors their muscle and nerve activity,” said Prof. Hanein. “The idea is: stick it on and forget about it.”

Applications for rehabilitation and more

According to Prof. Hanein, the new skin electrode has other important therapeutic applications. The tattoo will be used to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases in a study at Tel Aviv Medical Center.

“But that’s not all,” said Prof. Hanein. “The physiological data measured in specific muscles may be used in the future to indicate the alertness of drivers on the road; patients in rehabilitation following stroke or brain injury may utilize the ‘tattoo’ to improve muscle control; and amputees may employ it to move artificial limbs with remaining muscles.”

Learn more: Nanotech “Tattoo” Can Map Emotions and Monitor Muscle Activity

 

 

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