There is a new device in town that promises to make a massive leap in the wearable tech space. It is a tiny and thin heart-sensing device that has been designed with no wires, requires no charging and can withstand flexion.
On the innovation, research scientist at Japan’s RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science Kenjiro Fukuda, Ph.D., told Inverse.com: “We expect long-term monitoring of the heartbeat with minimum discomfort when the devices are attached to the human body,” he tells Inverse. “[Its] flexibility and lightweight can reduce the discomfort when the devices are attached to a human body.”
Resembling a bandaid, the device is not currently as powerful in comparison to existing heart-sensing technology, but due to its flexibility, it can compensate when it comes to certain movements made by the wearer. “Such ultra-thin devices enable better conformability than conventional wearable devices such as a smartwatch,” said Fukuda. “This can lead to better and more stable monitoring than conventional devices.”
The Self-sustaining Wearable
Of all the things that the device can do, the one feature that wowed us was the energy harvesting ability. The team managed to develop a totally self-sustaining wearable thanks to the implanted tiny organic solar cells on the device that can convert light into electricity. This means that the wearable never has to be taken off. On this Fukuda said: “Developing solar-powered wearable technology has proved challenging for other researchers because it’s hard to be sure that those crucial solar cells are getting the right amount of sunlight if a person is bending, flexing, and constantly changing the device’s angle in relation to a light source”. Adding; “…the technique allows for “light angle independency” in the solar cells”.
As exciting as this new development is, Fukuda has admitted that he and his team still have a ways to go. “Our [wearable] devices don’t expect more precise monitoring than a conventional ECG monitoring device used as a medical checkup,” he says. “If accuracy is further improved, this can also be used as imperceptible electrocardiogram systems for healthcare and medical use.”