Researchers at the Tel Aviv University's Center for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology have developed a new, temporary electronic tattoo that gauges the activity of muscle and nerve cells and enables to map emotions by monitoring facial expressions. The tattoo, which is made up of non-invasive carbon electrodes attached to a thin polymer adhesive surface is comfortable and accessible, allowing users to carry on as usual with their daily routines. It can be used for everything from medicine and rehabilitation to business and even advertising.
Powered by nanotechnology, preliminary tests have shown these new skin electrodes emit a steady signal for hours without irritating the skin in comparison to the unpleasant medical procedure of electromyography that records electrical signals by inserting a small needle into muscle and uses a cold, sticky gel to enhance conductivity.
‘A temporary ‘electronic tattoo’ can now gauge the activity of muscle and nerve cells and enables to map emotions by monitoring facial expressions.’
The tattoo consists of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating with special nano- topography that enhances the electrode's performance.
Professor Yael Hanein, head of TAU's Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology said, "We used readily available materials and conventional industrial printing techniques, in order to simplify and speed up the development process."
While researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software this electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution. One major application of the new electrode is the mapping of emotion by monitoring facial expressions through electric signals received from facial muscles.
The new skin electrode has important therapeutic applications as well. The tattoo will be used to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The physiological data measured using the device can help amputees control artificial limbs with remaining muscles, monitor alertness of drivers on roads and improve muscle control in stroke victims in rehabilitation.
The study led by Professor Yael Hanein was conducted within the framework of European Research Council (ERC) project, and partly supported by the Brain-Stimulation-Monitoring-Treatment (BSMT) Consortium of Israel's Ministry of Economy.