Concept: Researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) have designed a stretchable electronic skin, which can simultaneously measure and display a wearer’s heart rate in real-time. The skin is an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display that can be attached to the wrist and is equipped with a photoplethysmography sensor that can monitor the heartbeat.

Nature of Disruption: SAIT researchers developed the electronic skin using elastomer, a type of advanced polymer material with high elasticity and resilience. They also manipulated its molecular structure and composition to boost its resistance to heat and alleviate the stress caused by elongation. Samsung claims that its skin can offer a more accurate measurement of a user’s heart rate compare to other existing wearable devices in the market even after stretching over a thousand times. It boasts the skin’s heartbeat pickup signal to be 2.4 times stronger than a fixed silicon sensor. The skin can allow users to measure their biometric data for a longer period without the need to remove it during their sleep or routine work, as it feels like part of their skin. One of the key advantages is that the biometric data can be instantly checked on the patch without having it be transmitted to an external device like a smartphone app.

Outlook: Wearable devices are typically made of plastic that can break down under external stress or intense physical pressure. To overcome that technical issue, the researchers replaced plastic with elastomer to develop a stretchable skin that does not break easily. Moreover, SAIT claims that the stretchable properties make it adhere to the skin, giving a more comfortable experience to users. SAIT has plans to embed other types of stretchable sensors to enable users to monitor data such as blood pressure, peripheral oxygen saturation, and electromyogram in the future.

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