A team of researchers has developed an ultrathin, elastic display that can be attached to the skin and could have huge implications for the healthcare industry.
The display can show the moving waveform of an electrocardiogram and could be attached to the arm of patients both inside and outside the hospital ward.
Inside the display is an integrated biomedical sensor system that can be attached to a communication module to transmit data back to the cloud.
The Japanese team behind the invention believe it could be used to help elderly or infirm patients who may have trouble operating existing devices and interfaces.
Medical data measured by the sensor, such as an electrocardiogram, can either be sent wirelessly to a smartphone for viewing or to the cloud for storage. In the latest research, the display showed a moving electrocardiogram waveform that was stored in memory.
"Our skin display exhibits simple graphics with motion," said Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Engineering who led the project.
"Because it is made from thin and soft materials, it can be deformed freely."
In fact, the display can be stretched to as much as 45% its original length.
The researchers applied tried-and-tested methods used in the mass production of electronics - specifically, screen printing the silver wiring and mounting the micro LEDs on the rubber sheet with a chip mounter and solder paste commonly used in manufacturing printed circuit boards.
They believe that applying these methods will accelerate the commercialisation of the display and help keep future production costs down.
"The current aging society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals in order to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care," said Someya.
The skin sensor can be worn uninterrupted for up to a week.
Professor Someya said: "Our system could serve as one of the long-awaited solutions to fulfill this need, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life for many."