Experimental skin tattoo accurately monitors blood pressure

June 27, 2022
Experimental skin tattoo accurately monitors blood pressure

A small temporary tattoo could be a promising and practical alternative to continuous monitoring of blood pressure, developed by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M. The wearable health device is made from graphene, a material similar to the graphite rods inside pencils, and a durable, electrically conductive ink.

Once printed into a circuit and applied directly over a patient’s arteries at their wrists, the device can monitor blood pressure over 24 hours at a time, with very good accuracy: the tattooed circuit sends a weak electrical current into the skin, allowing it to detect changes in the artery’s volume.

The data is then sent to a small box of electronics that connects to a computer, where it is interpreted to obtain measurements of blood pressure.

“Blood pressure is an important metric,” said biomedical engineering professor Roozbeh Jafari at Texas A&M. “It gives us a holistic view of the entire cardiovascular system. But if you want to measure it, just one or a few measurements a day isn’t enough, and cuff-based solutions are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and impractical.”

The researchers are adapting the technology to be paired with common devices such as smartwatches, which would allow them to be used by a much wider range of people. Such a system is much more reliable than current smartwatch monitoring systems, which rely on an optical sensor. Optical sensors are influenced by the color of a user’s skin, and less accurate in their readings.

This technology can conceivably be used to gather data on “muscle contractions, hydration, tissue composition changes, or even breathing” in the future, added Kaan Sel, an electrical and computer engineering researcher at Texas A&M.

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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