New stretchy e-tattoo measures ECG and SCG simultaneously

A newly developed stretchy, lightweight wearable could make heart health monitoring easier and more accurate than the traditional electrocardiograph machines.
The new wearable has been developed by the researchers of the University of Texas, Austin. The research was led by Nanshu Lu.

The new wearable is none other than the electronic tattoo technology, a graphene-based wearable device which can be placed on the skin to measure a variety of body responses, from electrical to biochemical signals.

The lightweight device is stretchable and can be placed over the heart for extended periods with no discomfort. The cardiac health is measured by the device in two ways – taking electrocardiograph and seismocardiograph readings simultaneously. Powered remotely by a smartphone, the e-tattoo is the first ultrathin and stretchable technology to measure both ECG and SCG.

“We can get much greater insight into heart health by the synchronous collection of data from both sources,” said Lu, an associate professor in the departments of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering.

The concept of e-tattoo is not new, but this new device is made of a piezoelectric polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride, capable of generating its own electric charge in response to mechanical stress. The device also includes 3D digital image correlation technology that is used to map chest vibrations in order to identify the best location on the chest to place the e-tattoo.

The e-tattoo has another advantage over traditional methods. Usually, an ECG measurement requires going into a doctor’s office, where heart health can be monitored only for a couple of minutes at a time. This device can be worn for days, providing constant heart monitoring.

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