Wearable technology has been around for a few years now and many people find these devices extremely useful, but the next era will see the introduction of E-skin or electronic skin.
These new devices will be ultra thin and flexible, involving several technologies that include sensors, microelectronics, materials, and ICT. E-skin is already becoming invaluable within the healthcare industry for monitoring and medical applications that include sensing and measuring anatomical activities. The demand for this type of technology is set to grow, with an aging population and the number of chronic diseases that require continual monitoring. This is also giving a huge boost to the development of this technology which combined with high funding is seeing considerable advances in microelectronics and the Internet of Things.
Electronic Skin-Advancements and Emerging Opportunities, a part of Frost & Sullivan’s Tech Vision Partnership Service program expects that in just a few years time, e-skin technology will be able to replace bulky testing and medical diagnostic devices, power new applications such as smart lighting and smart touch displays and it will allow robots to be deployed in hazardous areas to collect analytical data.
It is also expected that the integration of multiple sensors in the skin substrates will bring new opportunities within the safety and security markets, as well as within consumer electronics and robotics. This new technology will be able to replace wearable devices, and in robotics, the use of E-skin will import the sense of touch to robots. This could allow them to perform surgical operations without the need for human intervention.
Frost & Sullivan Tech Vision Research Analyst, Varun Babu said “Emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, near field communication, advanced materials and fabrication will energize the E-skin market. This technology is expected to mature rapidly in the next five years, and achieve mass scale manufacturing and deployment in various application areas.”
Even though this technology can be used to create innovative projects the challenges are numerous and relate to integrating sensors into the human body and data processing. Hurdles that need to be overcome include medical regulatory norms, cost pressures and the complexity of this technology. Manufacturers are also working on resolving issues of material degradation, skin irritation and the complex circuitry that needs to be designed for this technology.
Apparently, this technology has already received venture capital and federal funding which is helping to expedite the research and commercialization processes.