Electronic Tattoos to Monitor Health – Understand How They Work

The medical field always has room for improvement. As a human race, we have evolved from the age of analog equipment to digital equipment, and today complex machines are used to monitor patients’ conditions. 

That’s because the normal monitoring devices like Pacemakers and MRI machines are often inconvenient to use. For that reason, countless research trials have been conducted. The bulky devices have to be lighter.

Remember the saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”? Although the research took some time, the way is here. The resulting device from the efforts is none other than the Electronic Tattoo. 

Electronic Tattoos to Monitor Health - Understand How They Work

What is an Electronic Tattoo? 

Before we go on with the description, don’t worry. It is a temporary “tattoo” so no damage is done to the skin.

 An electronic tattoo (also called E-Tattoo) is a tattoo made on the surface of a piece of plastic and is used for monitoring a patient’s vital signs. It is a device that has the potential to revolutionize healthcare technology.

But still, truth be told, it isn’t quite a new invention. The first device of its kind required that one coat the skin first with conductive ink (or a conductive film) – a strenuous process. 

That is probably the reason it didn’t make waves as much as the developers hoped it would.

Today, however, the electronic tattoo is back and better! To use the device, you need only dampen it with water to allow the printed circuit to adhere to the skin – like a tattoo. 

The best part about it is that it sticks for long periods unless intentionally rubbed off. You could say scientists finally made the most of those sticker tattoos from when we were kids.

How Are Electronic Tattoos Made?

The basic idea behind its construction involves printing nanoparticles of semiconductors (like silicon) to form complex circuits. 

Unlike earlier electronic tattoos which require the application of excessive heat during manufacturing, the new design is sintered (printed) at room temperature with the aid of Gallium-Indium alloys.

Although it might sound farfetched, such alloys (also known as catalysts) speed up chemical reactions by altering the prerequisite conditions for the occurrence. 

During the sintering process, the required high temperatures are dropped drastically to enable the nanoparticles to form circuits that are loosely attached to the plastic surface.

Ultimately, the result of the technical stuff you just read (which we’re sure you don’t want to know) is that the complex detecting circuits adhere to the skin when damped with water. 

The device then can collect electric signals from several activities of the body (such as the temperature, heart rate, blood pressure) while the wearer continues with daily activities normally.

The electronic tattoo sadly does not yet have a wide range of things to monitor. However, with massive steps towards improvement like this, one could say that in no time the device could measure anything from a toothache to chronic disease. 

The data collected by the device is monitored by your hospital whose job is to contact you once they sense anything is wrong. So with that in mind, we just might be approaching an era of fewer illnesses.

Electronic Tattoos to Monitor Health - Understand How They Work


Indeed, there’s always room for improvement in the current design. However, the invention of the electronic tattoo, although with its flaws, is a welcome improvement to the equipment that had been in existence. 

If globally administered it could save millions of lives through prompt identification and treatment of diseases. So despite sounding very futuristic, the electronic tattoo is here and could become as common as health apps in usage.

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