Nov 23, 2009

Morning Tech News: LED "Tatoos"; Sixth Sense Wearable Displays

Since I am usually crunched for time, I thought I'd try posting "morning tech news" on this blog in a brief format, and return to the topic later - hopefully later in the day or at the most, within the week.

If you are familiar with this blog, what I consider "news" is sometimes new to me.  It might be something that crossed my path a while ago and never posted.  It might be something that I missed.   It doesn't even have to be "news",  if it is something that is unique, catches my fancy, or is something that I think is an important innovation that should be followed and shared.

Today's news I caught from Wired, which linked to an article in MIT's Technology Review, "Implantable Silicon-Silk Electronics:  Biodegradable circuits could enable better neural interfaces and LED  tatoos", written by Katherine Bourzac.

"By building thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates, researchers have made electronics that almost completely dissolve inside the body. So far the research group has demonstrated arrays of transistors made on thin films of silk. While electronics must usually be encased to protect them from the body, these electronics don't need protection, and the silk means the electronics conform to biological tissue. The silk melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don't cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick."

WIRED's Gadget Lab:  The Illustrated Man:  How LED Tattos Could Make Your Skin a Screen Charlie Sorrel 11/20/09
"The silk substrate onto which the chips are mounted eventually dissolves away inside the body, leaving just the electronics behind. The silicon chips are around the length of a small grain of rice — about 1 millimeter, and just 250 nanometers thick. The sheet of silk will keep them in place, molding to the shape of the skin when saline solution is added.
These displays could be hooked up to any kind of electronic device, also inside the body. Medical uses are being explored, from blood-sugar sensors that show their readouts on the skin itself to neurodevices that tie into the body’s nervous system — hooking chips to particular nerves to control a prosthetic hand, for example."
Tatoo You:  Silicon LED's can act as photonic tattoos that can show blood sugar readings
-Surfdaddy Orca,  hplusmagaizine 11/17/09

"Brian Litt, associate professor of neurology and bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, is working with researchers from Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois and Tufts University to develop medical applications for the new transistors. Their silk-silicon LEDs can act as photonic tattoos that can show blood-sugar readings, as well as arrays of conformable electrodes that might interface with the nervous system."

Litt Lab : Translational NeuroEngineering 
(Brian Litt's lab.)

I've been thinking about flexible touch-screen applications, and it never occurred to me that the concept might be something that would transfer to human skin!  Here are a few of my posts related to this topic:

Last night I dreamt about haptic touch-screen overlays...
Rhizome 2009:  A Lovely Interactive Multi-touch App on a Flexible Lycra Screen
Impress:  A cool flexible interface project  by Silke Hilsing

More about this "somewhat related topic" to come: 
Latest SixthSense demo features paper "laptop" camera gestures
Nilay Patel, Engadget  11/18/09
Adding a "SixthSense" to your Cellphone
Vikas Bajaj, Bits, New York Times 11/6/09
Pattie Maes TED Talk:  Sixth Sense-  Mobile Wearable Interface and Gesture Interaction (for the price of a cell phone!) - my post from 3/2009

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