Researchers at Panasonic (PCRFY) in Japan have developed a new kind of resin that has the potential to make personal health electronics leaner and comfier.
The stretchy tech, announced by the company on Dec. 28, can be used as a base for electronic materials. Its physical properties makes electronics easier to apply to skin or clothing—like a Band-Aid or a tattoo, rather than a watch or a strap.
The electronics company has not yet announced how it will use the technology commercially. “It enables the construction of soft and stretchable electronic devices that are adaptable to a variety of forms, such as of clothing and the body,” the company said in a news release. The proprietary technology could be used for wearables, sensors, displays, or robots.
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The scientists have also combined the stretchy resin with silver to make a conductive paste that could help affix stretchable displays to clothing or skin. The development could help biosensors and medical monitoring devices become less obtrusive.
Other stretchable materials that are being developed in the field of biosensors include new silicons and rubbers.
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John Roberts, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has researched and developed stretchy silicon electronics for more than a decade, says there will be more stretchy polymers to come in January at CES, the annual consumer electronics trade show, that could help monitor not just body processes but also environmental conditions around the body, like ultraviolet ray exposure.
“You’d like to know about what’s coming in contact with your skin,” Roberts says.
And soon there may be a few more microchips nearby to help out.