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On-Skin Wearable Bioelectronic Device Paves Way for Intelligent Implants

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 May 2024
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Image: A demonstration of the on-skin wearable bioelectronic device (Photo courtesy of University of Missouri)
Image: A demonstration of the on-skin wearable bioelectronic device (Photo courtesy of University of Missouri)

A team of researchers at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO, USA) has achieved a milestone in developing a state-of-the-art on-skin wearable bioelectronic device. This development comes from a lab that specializes in crafting soft bioelectronics, which has innovatively added wireless charging capability to their already soft, breathable, and stretchable material without the need for batteries, instead using a magnetic connection. This enhancement lays the foundation for precisely monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure, heart electrical activity, and skin hydration, potentially paving the way for early diagnosis and timely management of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The ultimate objective of the research team is to make it easier for individuals to manage their health through long-term monitoring of their own health data, and to wirelessly communicate this data to their healthcare providers. After years of dedicated research, the team has now overcome a significant obstacle by establishing a reliable wireless connection. Plans are underway to broaden the device’s functionality to include monitoring blood pressure and heart electrical activity. The researchers are also investigating how this technology could be integrated with internal medical devices, such as pacemakers. This implantable version of the technology would not rely on Bluetooth and does not require a battery, offering distinct advantages over current technologies for safe and efficient medical use.

“A watch is a hard surface, so it’s not as effective as our material in providing accurate vital sign tracking,” said Zheng Yan, an associate professor at Mizzou’s College of Engineering. “Our porous, soft material acts as an electrical conductor, so it can maintain a stable electrical current during movement. This is a significant step forward toward our overall goal to help improve the long-term biocompatibility and the long-lasting accuracy of wearable bioelectronics.”

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