Skin circuitry means solar-powered interactive LED tattoos

A new process that allows complex circuitry and electrical component to be applied directly to the skin is big news for medical sensors, but it could also lead to LED tattoos, video game interfaces that are integrated into your body, and even direct control of your muscles by a computer.

It's always been possible to just hot glue electronics to your body, but it's never been a particularly pleasant process for either your skin or the circuits in question. By restructuring circuits to match the elasticity of skin and making them thin enough so that they'll stick with mere molecular forces, researchers have now figured out how to effectively integrate electronic components into your skin without any pain, suffering, or surgery whatsoever.


These new circuits can be applied just like a temporary tattoo: they're manufactured on a sheet of water soluble plastic, placed over the skin, and then adding a little bit of water sticks them right to you. The squiggly design of the wires allows the circuit to move and flex like your skin does, but the especially cool thing is that the bending works both ways, making it possible for the electronics to tell when, where, and how much they're being bent. So, you could stick one of these to your arm, and then flex your arm to control computer games, which is a trick that the researchers have already gotten to work in the lab.

It gets better, too. You can integrate just about anything into these skintronics (as I've just started calling them), including transistors, LEDs, photodetectors, RFID tags, capacitors to store energy, solar cells to harvest energy, and antennas for wireless communication and power transfer. Sensors can monitor what's going on inside your body, and it may even be possible to transmit electrical signals through the skin to tap into your muscles directly. The possibilities are endless, and this could really be a fundamental game-changer when it comes to personal computing: forget wearable computers, the future is in body-integrated computers, and it's already almost here.

Paper, via io9

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