Temporary tattoo capable of sending wireless signals to an external receiver

Researchers in EDA have developed a temporary transfer tattoo capable of sending wireless signals to an external receiver.
The tattoo was developed with inkjet electronics, which involves the use of special conducting inks to create electronic circuits in the same way that a desktop printer produces pictures. One application for such tattoos is to measure brainwaves in cases of suspected epilepsy when cabled sensors are too distressing for a patient. If the sensors can be made small enough they could offer more exact measurements to be taken by medics enabling them to better target problem areas in the brain. Other applications could enable patients to be monitored at home if they wish, or the sensors could be used by fire or police officers to show they are well in extreme conditions.
The project, which is a collaboration between EDA, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Manchester, is led by Dr John Batchelor, Reader in Antenna Technology at Kent, and will combine expertise from EDA’s wireless communication engineering with printed electronics expertise from Manchester.
On a related theme, the researchers are also working towards the development of printed panels to be mounted in walls to make buildings wireless friendly. This work will be led by Professor Ted Parker at Kent and is intended to produce an affordable way to either screen out or allow through, radio, phone or WiFi signals depending on the wishes of the building owner. Applications could be for security, preventing eavesdropping, or to increase the bandwidth of WiFi computing links. Currently there are no regulations requiring buildings to be compliant for radio communications.
Dr Batchelor said: ‘Our research shows that wireless transmission can work with a skin mounted patch. Future work will now involve the development and testing of inks that will survive the stretching and bending that will occur on human bodies. We also aim to increase the functionality of the tattoos so that they can act as sensors to aid the work of hospitals such as Great Ormond Street.’
Dr Batchelor also explained that inkjet electronics allows cost effective designs to be produced on the small scales needed in many applications, as opposed to the existing silicon technology which must be made in large scale to be cost effective.
The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).