The future of wearables are super-accurate nanoscale sensors worn on the skin like plasters
A major consideration when choosing the best wearable to buy is comfort and design. Many are chunky, heavy and inconvenient – or they don’t feature enough sensors to be accurate.
To solve this, a group of researchers at the University of Tokyo has invented a wearable sensor that’s so light, you’ll forget you’re wearing it. It’s worn on the forefinger and is hypoallergenic.
On-skin applications are one of the most accurate ways to record vitals, yet many existing wearables applied directly to the skin are typically made with ultrathin films and rubber sheets, meaning they lack breathability. Dermatological tests show these products can’t be worn comfortably for longer than a week because they prevent sweating and block airflow, causing irritation and inflammation.
The next-generation sensor from Tokyo is made from a nanoscale mesh and conforms to the skin when water is sprayed on it. During tests, 20 volunteers wore the sensor for a week, and none reported inflammation. Takao Someya, one of the researchers and an engineering professor at the University of Tokyo, said these sensors therefore lend themselves to the worlds of medicine and athletics.
The sensor’s easy-to-wear quality is coupled with its durability. During follow-up tests, it sustained more than 10,000 forefinger movements with no damage. Plus, the sensor is better at tracking a person’s electromyogram recordings – the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during use – than the gel more commonly used because the sensor tracks the body’s actual movement.