Summary: A newly developed “e-tattoo” monitors electrodermal activity, revealing when a person is experiencing high levels of stress. The “tattoo” attaches to the user’s palm and connects to a smartwatch.
Source: UT Austin
Our palms tell us a lot about our emotional state, tending to get wet when people are excited or nervous. This reaction is used to measure emotional stress and help people with mental health issues, but devices to do so now are bulky, unreliable and can perpetuate social stigma by sticking highly visible sensors to prominent parts of the body. .
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have applied emerging electronic watermarking (e-tattooing) technology to this type of monitoring, known as electrodermal activity or EDA detection.
In a new article published recently in Nature Communicationresearchers have created a graphene-based electronic tattoo that attaches to the palm, is nearly invisible, and connects to a smartwatch.
“It’s so discreet that people sometimes forget they’re wearing them, and it also reduces the social stigma of wearing these devices in such important places on the body,” said Nanshu Lu, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and engineering mechanics and project leader.
Lu and his collaborators have been advancing wearable electronic tattoo technology for many years. Graphene is a favorite material due to its thinness and its ability to measure the electrical potential of the human body, which allows for very accurate readings.
But, these ultra-thin materials cannot withstand much, if any, strain. This therefore makes it difficult to apply them to parts of the body that involve a lot of movement, such as the palm/wrist.
The secret sauce to this discovery is how the electronic tattoo on the palm is able to successfully transfer data to a rigid circuit – in this case, a commercially available smartwatch, in non-lab ambulatory environments. They used a serpentine ribbon composed of two partially overlapping layers of graphene and gold.
By snaking the tape back and forth, it can handle the strain that comes with hand movements for everyday activities like holding the steering wheel while driving, opening doors, running, and more.
Current palm monitoring technology uses bulky electrodes that drop off and are highly visible, or EDA sensors applied to other parts of the body, giving a less accurate reading.
Other researchers tried similar methods using nanometer-thick straight-line ribbons to connect the tattoo to a reader, but they couldn’t handle the strain of constant movement.
Lu said the researchers drew inspiration from virtual reality (VR), games, and the incoming metaverse for this research. Virtual reality is used in some cases to treat mental illness; however, the capacity for human awareness in virtual reality remains insufficient in many respects.
“You want to know if people are responding to this treatment,” Lu said. “Does it help them? For now, it’s hard to say. »
About this neurotechnology research news
Author: Press office
Source: UT Austin
Contact: Press Office – UT Austin
Image: Image is credited to UT Austin
Original research: Free access.
“Graphene e-tattoos for non-obstructive sensing of ambulatory electrodermal activity on the palm enabled by heterogeneous serpentine ribbons” by Hongwoo Jang et al. Nature Communication
Electronic Graphene Tattoos for Non-Obstructive Detection of Ambulatory Electrodermal Activity on the Palm Enabled by Heterogeneous Serpentine Ribbons
Electrodermal activity (EDA) is a popular index of mental stress. State-of-the-art EDA sensors suffer from obstruction on the palm or poor signal fidelity out of the palm. Our previous invention of imperceptible electronic graphene tattoos (GETs) with a thickness of less than one micron are ideal for non-obstructive EDA detection on the palm.
However, a robust electrical connection between ultra-thin devices and rigid circuit boards is a long-missing component for ambulatory use.
To minimize the well-known strain concentration at their interfaces, we propose heterogeneous serpentine ribbons (HSPR), which refers to a GET serpentine partially overlapping a gold serpentine without added adhesive.
A 50-fold reduction in stress of HSPR compared to heterogeneous straight ribbons (HSTR) has been discovered and understood. The combination of the HSPR and a soft interlayer between the GET and an EDA wristband enabled ambulatory EDA monitoring on the palm under free-living conditions.
A new EDA event selection policy based on unbiased phasic event selection has validated our GET EDA sensor against gold standards.
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