Electronic Skin Makes Body A Computer

SKINA patch of gold, just a few centimeters wide and light as a feather, could reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings.

This is the premise of Professor John Rogers’ Biostamp. By attaching flexible, miniature sensors to the user’s temple, he has been able to track brain waves in real time and transmit them as messages.

“Our prototypes can provide a variety of monitoring and stimulation functions,” says materials scientist Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. “We can pick up coordinated firing of neurons, and run that activity through a computer spelling interface, so that brainwaves pick letters out of A virtual keyboard display and type messages.”

Previously, such signals could only be detected by using a full helmet of heavy electrodes, which required the patient’s skin to be scrubbed, and could only be worn safely for a short time.

Rogers’ patch is light enough to be almost imperceptible, allowing for lengthy use even outside of the lab, so that the equipment is trained to pick up signals more accurately.

Barely-there electronics pick up brain activity.

The no-strings approach also eliminates background noise that obscures signals and creates positional uncertainty. For even greater accuracy, the Illinois team are using increasingly high-density electrodes that generate thousands of times more brain activity information.

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