• The University of Tokyo, Someya Group Organic Transistor Lab (YouTube)Source: YouTube
Electronic skin with an LED display can be used by athletes to show their heart rate – and could one day place a smartphone screen on the back of your hand.
Sandrine Ceurstemont

New Scientist
18 Apr 2016 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 18 Apr 2016 - 10:54 AM

Forget smartwatches. A super-thin electronic skin can turn the back of your hand into a digital display.

Similar e-skins have been made before, but at just 3 micrometres thick this is the thinnest yet. It is also more durable. Made by Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo and his team, the e-skin can be laid over actual skin anywhere on the body. Looking like a layer of plastic food wrap, it is flexible enough not to break when you move.

The display also works for longer than other devices, using LEDs that last for several days. The bright display works with less power than existing e-skins.

Connected up to sensors on the body, the e-skin has been used to display a person’s pulse and blood oxygen concentration on their hand. This could be used by people in hospital, for example – or athletes while they are training. But Someya sees a wider range of uses. “A worker will be able to have building plans or an electrical diagram displayed on their skin without carrying heavy devices,” he says.

The device uses a seven-segment LED to display a single digit or letter (see video). The team is now working on a display that can show far more information. Super-thin plastic sheets could replace smartphones, says Someya.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501856

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