Tattoos are the new sensation among the Millennial. According to a USA survey, the tattoo industry has been increasing by nearly 10 percent every year. The tattoo industry revenue has almost doubled since 2008.
Body-ink has become much more mainstream in today’s society, mainly due to celebrity trends. Whether it’s Hollywood movie star Johnny Depp or free-kick maestro David Beckham or Argentine great Lionel Messi or Indian Skipper Virat Kohli – One thing is common among them: they are all covered with tattoos.
But, these tattoos are mainly fancy kinds of stuff to gain attraction. Sometimes, it’s also a form of art, and many celebrities choose this way to express themselves.
Can we Use tattoos for the betterness of our health?
Now, let’s imagine a broader picture. What will happen if these tattoos are used for healthcare monitoring? A bit weird- isn’t it. But, in the past five years, tattoos are used for continuous monitoring of a patient. These are termed as “Electronic Tattoos.” In the flexible electronics domain, electronic tattoos are the new buzzword. In this context, Electronic tattoos are discussed very briefly.
First of all, they are not tattoos.
There is no ink, needle, or scratching of the skin. The reason they are called tattoos is that they are very similar to tattoos. The idea behind electronic tattoos is fundamental. The aim is to construct an embedded electronic system, typically containing smaller sensors than a sheet of paper and as lightweight and stretchable as a band-aid that can easily adhere to the skin.
How can we create electronic tattoos?
It starts with an ultrathin and stretchable plastic sheet. The entire circuitry is printed on it. This circuitry is made of silver nanoparticles. Then, these silver nanoparticles are coated with liquid metal alloy (mostly Gallium Indium alloy). The liquid metal fuses with silver, then it creates conductive wires on the tattoos.
The liquid metal alloy increases the mechanical strength and also the conductivity. It is first added to the skin’s surface and rubbed out of latex, and stripped off the latex, leaving just a very thin area of a translucent silicone wire coating. The entire fabrication process is done in a “clean room.”
The conductivity is high enough to support the digital circuits’ functionality.
The main advantage is that they become part of the body in a non-invasive, painless, and efficient manner. The circuitry mainly constitutes biosensors that can sense the data from a patient. Now, there can be different data based on various applications.
The data could be a patient’s blood pressure, glucose level, or heart rate. Depending on the case, an assortment of sensors can also be used. It can encourage physicians to monitor and diagnose vital health conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia, sleeping disorders, etc.
In addition to the sensors, the electronics package can contain wireless networking. Thus, antennas are also integrated into the whole setup. They can submit data, and they can be saved in the cloud for potential use.
The market of electronic tattoos is currently at the rising stage, and it has the potential to improvise the interaction between man and electronic devices. Additionally, it has promising prospects for the healthcare industry. Significant players in tattoo electronics development are Motorola, Bebop Sensors, Sensor Tex, Google, VivaLnk, etc. They are manufactured commercially in European countries like Germany, Spain, France, Italy, England, etc. Some Asian countries, like Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, have also shown their interest in this. The use of electronic tattoos is projected to grow to 24 percent in the healthcare sector by 2024.
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