A team of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
have developed small electronic devices that can be worn on the skin. These temporary tattoos make the person wearing them a part of the device, that can bend, stretch, and move along with the skin. The researchers were hoping to make less obtrusive medical monitors for special needs patients, like premature babies. But the new sensors have proven so successful they could also be used for a variety of other applications.
The idea of making wearable sensors that adhere to the skin seems so easy and useful its surprising no one has developed them before. According to researchers, the major challenge in developing the technology was making the parts of the sensor as flexible and stretchy as skin. To do this, the researchers had to take brittle silicon and make it more bendable by making the sensor incredibly thin. The electronic parts of the sensor, light-emitting diodes, solar cells, transistors, and antennae, were assembled in an S-shape that would allow the circuits to still work when stretched in different directions.