Most of the fitness tracking wearable devices that found today come with a heart rate tracking monitor. Apart from improving the wearer’s health, these heart rate tracking monitors aims at giving the wearer regular updates on their heart rate by and tracking unusual spikes. Now, although these wearable devices have become rife across the globe, scientists have come up with a new wearable electronic device, an “e-tattoo”, that can track heart rate with higher accuracy and ease.
The e-tattoo, developed by engineers from the University of Texas, Austin, is an ultra-thin and stretchable vibration sensor that works remotely with a smartphone and is placed on the skin to keep a track on different body responses (electrical or biomechanical). Research for the e-tattoo was led by Nanshu Lu, a renowned associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin and is aimed at promoting better heart health. Research is based around the fact that just ECG readings are not the most accurate measure of heart health and needs to be combined with SCG (Seismocardiography) sensor signals to gather additional information.
However, existing SCG sensors in the market are quite bulky, making it uncomfortable to wear. This new e-tattoo gets rid of that limitation as it is made up of a filamentary serpentine mesh with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) that can be placed over the heart area for long periods of time without causing any discomfort to the wearer. This also means that PVDF, a piezoelectric polymer, can offer constant heart rate monitoring.
The PVDF also generates an electric charge in response to mechanical stress. Moreover, there’s also a 3D digital image correlation technology, which is essentially a mapping technique that can help identify the best area on the chest to place the e-tattoo with the help of chest vibrations. Researchers are now looking working towards improving the data collection and storage process for the device. Moreover, they’re also looking out for ways to wirelessly charge the device for extended periods of time.