As a child you probably had one of those temporary tattoos that come packed with over-sweetened chewing gum. It was a nice decoration, and a way to stand out. Recently researchers have brought temporary tattoos to the next level with small, flexible electronic circuits.
These electronic patches consist of tiny semiconductor circuits, and are able to stretch with the skin. Scientists from the University of Illinois have created demonstration versions of these “tattoos” using a diverse array of electronic components mounted on a thin, rubbery substrate. Possible applications include sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.The patches are mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic and then laminated to the skin with water, just like a temporary tattoo. The circuits can also be applied directly to a temporary tattoo, hiding the appearance of the electronics.
This is an important advancement in wearable electronics. Such patches could allow us to measure brainwaves and other mental activity in an everyday setting. Currently this is only possible in a lab with a complicated helmet and a lot of wires. Imagine what else might be possible. In the near future we may be able to exchange contact information through a handshake, or finally find that mysterious six sense.