Biostamp temporary tattoo
electronic circuits by MC10


Materials scientist John Rogers and his firm MC10 have developed flexible electronic circuits that stick directly to the skin like temporary tattoos and monitor the wearer's health.

The Biostamp is a thin electronic mesh that stretches with the skin and monitors temperature, hydration and strain.

Rogers suggests that his "epidermal electronics" could be developed for use in healthcare to monitor patients without tethering them to large machines. Not only would this be more convenient, but the results could be more accurate if patients were examined in their normal environment doing usual activities rather than on the hospital ward.

Other applications could include a patch that lets an athlete know when and how much to hydrate for peak performance, or one that tells you when to apply more suncream.

Biostamp temporary tattoo electronic circuits by MC10

MC10 overcame the rigidity of normal electronic components made from brittle silicon-based wafers by printing them in very small pieces, arranged in wavy patterns.

Earlier versions were applied on an elastomer backing patch, but the latest prototype is applied directly to the skin using a rubber stamp. It can be covered with spray-on bandage available from pharmacies to make it more durable and waterproof enough to withstand sweating or washing with soapy water. It lasts up to two weeks before the skin's natural exfoliation causes it to come away.

The team are now working on the integration of wireless power sources and communication systems to relay the information gathered to a smartphone.

Other wearable monitoring technology we've reported on includes the Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone UP wristbands that monotor health and fitness, plus a wearable camera that uses sensors and GPS technology to decide which moments of your life are worth photographing.

See all our stories about wearable technology »

  • Isn’t it amazing what they can do in the medical field, and then again, what they can’t do. They can create these trackers but can’t cure cancer.

    • RichardLB

      It is a misnomer to believe that there is a direct correlation between the amount of $$ spent and any “cures”. The correlation is more along the lines of $$ to fund research in the hopes of finding cures.

      “Curing” cancer is a big complex beast, with cancers being somewhat unique to each individual. Admit it: it is hard.

      This patch – a wearable piece of electronics – in comparison to the complexity of cancer is easy. Sure, the development of this patch is hard unto itself, but to compare it to the complexity of cancer is just silly.

      However, this patch is foundational. Like anything we do, we build upon the successes of those before us. Hence, this wearable patch will likely be built upon for other more advanced uses in the years to come. It just takes research.

  • Edd

    I totally agree Hamilton, if they spent half as much money as they spend in sports or gadgets and put that into cancer research, it'd be done in less than a year!

    • Eva

      I think that idea is debatable, but perhaps you can think of devices such as this as potentially being used to help diagnose ailments quicker, meaning a higher rate of survival.

  • Guest

    There ARE cures for Cancer, but the FDA and their friends in big pharma, don’t want them. They would lose too much money. The American Cancer Society? What a joke. It would be funny if it weren’t so true.

    The US sucks in trying to help their people. All they want to do is disarm them, and use drones against them. What a sad commentary.

  • John

    It’s really amazing that a temporary tattoo can be an electronic chip level circuit. I was surprised to see the this. Thanks for sharing.

  • The selfie was dead. Now it was ‘Wearables’, body
    sensors everyone was talking about. They were getting under everyone’s skin. And on it. It felt special, too. To begin with.

    Your own digital physician, no two-week-wait appointment. A Private Dr Kildare in your iPhone or Android. Keeping an eye out – talking to your body sensors, checking your electrolyte levels and
    liver functioning, moment-by-moment. Just-For-You…

    Invites to health screens. Texted reminders of the damage of a day after the night before — with the money-off promise of salvation by patent medicine.

    And if you clicked “yes” you could even
    collect it pre-paid as you walked past the nearest pharmacy (your Wearables patch knew where that was, too. Clever, eh?). And 10 percent off, if you buy now.

    Something to make you thin. Something to make you happy. No waiting room ennui. Your own microscope to check on the perfect inner me. Iron man tablets for that borderline anaemia.

    Or thoughtfully proffered pills to lower your Starbucksed-blood pressure (you know you’ve been too busy to keep an eye on that: Wearables; a Godsend, really).

    Everyone was getting so into-themselves. Literally. People couldn’t stop themselves – “physician heal thyself” – and we could all do that now. Well, maybe with a bit of help from Superdrug, and something about Glaxo Smith Kline having access to your body’s “metadata”. Whatever?

    In the office, at home travelling on the subway, everyone: checking their Vitamin C, B12’s, optimising their fecundity and fertility. Wearables were really nailing the ‘me’ in social me-dia.

    Then the Google Glass Hackers began. Cracking feeds from “Wearable” users. Intercepting what state you were in, not just your blood pressure, your levels of boredom… or arousal. It gave them an edge in the office, and at home. Sitting opposite you.

    Looking into your eyes. Well theirs. When they said they knew how you were feeling, it was true… The good ones – the e-Raiders – could suck metadata from the cloud too. They knew more about you in the now, in the past, the future, than you did.

    Sometimes, for a moment, when you weren’t distracted or double-checking your blood sugar, you could see it in their eyes.

    Your heart rate and your bank balance, the mirror of your soul, flickering in their VDU contact lenses. They really did “know how you feel”. They could read you, for sure. “Get you.” Correlate and plot you. Working out their part in your life before you even knew them. Google Analytics? They didn’t know the half of it!

    The funny thing is, us Wearables – forever monitoring our own inner feedback, never being in the moment, what was that old phrase a while back? Mindful. Yeah, mindful of our data, but never our selves – well, we didn’t even notice. And that’s how the world become but two; the Hackers and the Wearers.

    But you know that don’t you. I can see the glow in your lenses.

    The glow of me. My inner me. What? Sorry. What was I
    saying? I got lost for a moment there. Excuse me, I just need to check my liver function…

    Nick Wray

  • RichardLB

    I wonder if something like this can potentially be utilised to monitor blood sugar levels for type I diabetics?