We are not unfamiliar with the idea of flexible ‘electronic tattoos’ that provide a comfortable means of monitoring cardiac patients’ hearts as opposed to conventional and rigid electrodes. The electronic tattoos can be worn for a much longer time as opposed to their traditional counterpart. A new e-tattoo, however, claims to be much more accurate than others since it tracks the health of the patient’s heart in two ways.
The e-tattoo has been created by a team under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Nanshu Lu at the University of Texas in Austin. The e-tattoo features two thin-film sensors with one of them created using gold and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic while the other crafted from a polymer that is called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) is piezoelectric in nature, thus capable of producing a mechanical charge once it undergoes mechanical stress. Both of these sensors are affixed to a thin sheet of transparent 3M Tegaderm medical dressing.
The e-tattoo can temporarily adhere to the patient’s chest right above the heart and is capable of stretching along with the skin of the patient. This allows patients to use without feeling any kind of discomfort while staying in place for days. The e-tattoo has to be hard-wired to a computer right now but will eventually be able to transmit data to an app wirelessly.
What really sets this e-tattoo apart is the fact that it is capable of monitoring the heart using two functions; electrocardiography (ECG) and seismocardiography (SCG). Most of our readers must be aware of the ECG where the electrical activity being produced with each heartbeat is recorded. SCG, however, measures the vibrations of the chest that takes place because of the heart’s beating. As per the university, SCG can serve as a kind of quality control, demonstrating the accuracy of ECG readings.
According to Lu, ‘We can get much greater insight into heart health by the synchronous collection of data from both sources.’ The research has been described in a paper with lead author Dr Taewoo Ha that has been published in the journal Advanced Science.