E-tattoo - AfterGen

Graphene-based wearable sensors which monitors the heart activity

The leading cause of death in Texas- Austin is the heart disease. Accounting more than 45,000 deaths statewide in 2017. A new wearable technology has been made to monitor the heart health which is more easy to wear and gives accurate result than the exiting electrocardiography machines- a technology that has changed little in almost a century.

Researches at the University of Texas at Austin and led by Nanshu Lu in the Cockrell School of Engineering developed this latest electronic tattoo technology, a graphene-based wearable device that can be placed on the skin to measure variety of body responses, from electrical to biomechanical signals.

The latest e-tattoo developed is so lightweight and stretchable that can be wore easily and comfortably.

It also measures cardiac health in two ways , taking electrocardiograph and sesimocardiograph readings simultaneously, according to the study published in the journal Advanced Science.

The electrocardiogram (ECG) method records the rates of electrical activity produced each time the heart beats. Seismocardiography (SCG) is a measurement technique using chest vibrations associated with heartbeats.

"We can get much greater insight into heart health by the synchronous collection of data from both sources," said Lu, an associate professor in the departments of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering.

Although soft e-tattoos for ECG sensing are not new, other sensors, such as the SCG sensor, are still made from nonstretchable materials, making them bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Lu and her team's e-tattoo is made of a piezoelectric polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride, capable of generating its own electric charge in response to mechanical stress. The device also includes 3D digital image correlation technology that is used to map chest vibrations to identify the best location on the chest to place the e-tattoo.

Lu and her team are already working on data improvements and storage for the device as well as the power supply to the device. They recently developed a smartphone app that not only stores data safely but can also show heart beating on the screen in real time .

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