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E-Tattoo Monitors Brainwaves and Baby Bump


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A man wearing a patch with electronic circuits on his forehead.

While largely transparent, a patch containing electronic circuitry can monitor electrophysiological signals associated with the heart and other muscles, as well as rudimentary brain activity.

Credit: UCSD Jacobs

University of California, San Diego researchers have developed a transparent patch containing electronic circuits as thin as a human hair. When applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo, these devices could be used to monitor electrophysiological signals associated with the heart and muscles, as well as rudimentary brain activity.

Now the researchers have optimized the placement of the electrodes to pick up more complex brainwaves. During testing, the tattoo was as good as conventional electroencephalogram at determining whether a person was looking at the target image or another stimulus.

The researchers also are modifying the tattoo to transmit data wirelessly to a smartphone, says San Diego researcher Todd Coleman. He hopes that eventually the device could identify other complex patterns of brain activity, such as those that might be used to control a prosthetic limb.

The group is currently optimizing the tattoo for use in conditions such as depression and Alzheimer's disease, each of which have distinct patterns of neural activity. Since its electronic components are already mass-produced, the tattoo also can be made very cheaply.

From New Scientist
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