For 80 years, the traditional method for non-invasive collection and analysis of human brain activity has been the electroencephalogram (EEG). The system used electrodes that were stuck to the subject’s temples and head with conductive gel. However, the electrodes do not remain in place for more than two days at the most, making long-term analysis difficult. A materials scientist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a wearable, temporary tattoo-like sensor that can be worn and collect data for up to two weeks.
The sensor is made of soft, foldable electrodes 300 nanometers thick and 30 micrometers wide atop a soft, plastic film. Using van der Waals interactions–the force that helps geckoes stick to surfaces–the sensor is able to stick to the skin for up to 14 days. In a pilot study, researchers were able to mount the device onto subjects’ ears using only a pair of tweezers, and the participants had to use spray on bandages on the area twice a day. However, the sensors stayed in place for up to two weeks, during showering, sleeping, and other activities. The device begins to remove on its own at the two week mark due to the natural exfoliation of skin.
This particular technological advancement is significant because it widens the opportunities for brain-computer interfacing (BCI), a technology necessary in thought-controlled prosthetics. The goal of BCI’s is to create a seamless transition between thought and movement in robotic and thought-controlled prostheses. Wearable sensors such as these help to advance that transition.
(Source: ieee Spectrum)