There have been many advances in wearable electrocardiograms (ECG and EKG) in 2019. The sensitivity and autonomy of these tools has improved a lot, but the future is an electronic tattoo that stays on our skin and continuously transmits data about our heart.
Researchers at the University of Texas have developed a very thin, elastic and light one to attach directly to the heart. Once activated, this sort of "smart sticker" can transmit heart rate data instantly, following us throughout the day.
Dr Nanshu Lu, the lead author of the research, has been working on the electronic tattoo project for years. The most significant change took place with the recent introduction of super thin sensors, with a thickness of just 28 micrometers (or 0.028 millimeters, if you prefer).
“We will get a lot more data and a lot more precise from the combination of ECG and chest movements,” explains Lu in a press release.
An ECG tattoo
The prototype developed by the team has the energy to last for days and days, and transmits all the data it collects to a smartphone in real time.
There is no need to have an adhesive tape to keep it on the chest (perhaps with your name written on it, as in the medical series), and the costs of the sensor are very low. The breakthroughs in the field of electronic tattoos that produce performance similar to that of an EKG are evident, unthinkable even just two years ago.
The challenge for the researchers now is to increase the autonomy of the device, and maybe even be able to power it remotely. Without frying the skin that houses the tattoo, I mean.
In any case, the old chest bands that measure the heartbeat will very soon be a thing of the past, the "heartbeat tattoo" will replace them.
Following the current rate of improvement, devices of this type will have an ease of use and autonomy such as to be totally forgotten once on.
Heart health at this point bow and thank you.