Takao Someya, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering, invented a new technology: E-skin. E-skin’s primary function is for a doctor to monitor a patient’s medical information remotely. E-skin is made from a flexible material called polyvinyl alcohol, which can detect a patient’s signals like heartbeat and electrical impulses from movement. This device can be applied using a water spray and can be worn for a week at a time. For example, the polyvinyl alcohol with a layer of gold can be attached on the chest. A wireless transmitter that sends heartbeat information to a nearby electronic can be attached along with the E-skin, allowing the doctor to monitor a patient’s medical status remotely. “E-skin is the next generation of wearables,” Someya tells CNN Business. “Today’s mainstream wearables are in the form of smart watches and glasses, which are bulky. In contrast, e-skin is thin, lightweight, stretchable and durable.” 

E-skin particularly targets seniors. Someya says that it is critical to precisely analyze seniors’ health for a long period of time. The E-skin’s durable structure allows it to monitor chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to heart failure. Someya continues, and says that his E-skin can also detect early signs of serious illnesses. The reason why Someya targets seniors, is because some find it difficult to utilize a phone to update their doctors on their health. Some of the e-skin samples have LED lights attached, to light up understandable graphics. This usage of LED lights can get creative; as of now, friends and families can send simple emojis with their phones to light up the LED lights on the back of a patient’s hand. Someya states that this way, seniors can feel more connected to their loved ones during the restricting pandemic. 

Heartbeat graphic on LED E-skin monitoring the heartbeat on senior
Someya wearing E-skin and testing its ability to receive emojis sent from a device

Another target Someya is focusing on is athletes. Athletes can use E-skin to monitor one’s movements. Then, the athletes can send the detected muscle movements to their instructor, and receive feedback. This was tested with Taekwondo practitioner Mana Umehara, and just like described, it tracked her body movements and her computer translates it into visual data. The E-skin can be installed into the pajamas and sportswear in athletes to analyze the temperature in bed and more. 

Taekwondo practitioner Mana Umehara testing E-skin technology