Printed stickers, stretchable antennas, fluctuation-resistant RFID for continuous whole-body monitoring

Zhenan Bao‘s adhesive, unobtrusive wearables continue to change the way health is monitored.  Her new BodyNet system tracks pulse, respiration, and other physiological signs using small, screen printed stickers around the body, and a wireless receiver clipped to clothing. The research was published in Nature Electronics last week.

Her  goal is to “create an array of wireless sensors that stick to the skin and work in conjunction with smart clothing to more accurately track a wider variety of health indicators than the smart phones or watches consumers use today.”

The technology is almost un-noticeable to the wearer, as it does not include batteries or rigid circuits. To achieve this, the Bao Lab created a new antenna that could stretch and bend like skin, and an RFID system capable of sending strong and accurate signals to the receiver, despite constant fluctuations.

The initial version of the stickers relied on tiny motion sensors. The team will next integrate sweat, temperature and other sensors.

Bao believes that “one day it will be possible to create a full-body skin-sensor array to collect physiological data without interfering with a person’s normal behavior.”