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Wireless Skin Patch Developed to Transmit Medical Info
Date:3/29/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they're designing patch-like devices to wirelessly transmit information about a person's vital health statistics, potentially freeing patients from the wires and sticky electrodes of electroencephalograms (EEGs) and electrocardiogram (EKGs).

The devices, currently envisioned to be more like a temporary tattoo than a medical patch, could conceivably measure heart activity and brain waves, said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who spoke about the new research at a conference this week.

"The big benefit would be the ability to continuously monitor health and wellness," Rogers said. "There's a lot of interest in personalized medicine and the quantified self, and hardware is key."

The research, however, is in the preliminary stages. It's not clear how much the devices would cost or how long it will take before they could be available. However, Rogers and colleagues have formed a company to bring the devices to the medical market.

The goal is to figure out how to measure something that the body is doing -- the actions of the heart, for instance -- and then transmit the information without the use of wires. The researchers also want to make devices that are more like tattoos, which closely follow the contours of the skin, than medical patches, which are more rigid and can irritate the skin, Rogers said.

The researchers think their devices "will bear a lot of similarities to kids' temporary transfer tattoos," he said. "That's the mental picture that you should have. Once it's on you, you don't know it's there anymore."

The patches in development are about an inch square, roughly the size of a stamp, he said. The plan is to install a transmission system that allows the patches to send out information wirelessly, a bit like the so-cal
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