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e-textiles becoming a real second skin

November 25, 2009

I read an interesting post at talk2myshirt blog today.”According to a recent Technology Review article, researchers at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, the Tufts University in Medford, MA, and the University of Pennsylvania building thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates that almost completely integrate into the body.

While electronics usually has to be encased to protect it from the body, these electronics don’t need protection. During the implanting the electronics is covered in a silk like substrate which melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don’t cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick.

The group is developing silk-silicon LEDs that might act as photonic tattoos that can show blood-sugar readings, as well as arrays of conformable electrodes that might interface with the nervous system.

The Skin LEDs have been successfully implanted into mice and now it’s time to find volunteers for the next testing phase.

Electronic giant Philips is exploring the body as platform for electronics as well with their version of an electronic Tattoo, the SKIN:Tattoo which is stimulated by touch. Sensual navigation along the landscape of the body paints tattoo like pattern on the skin.”

So the question I ask to myself is: is it a virtual tattoo? an electronic pattern? a second skin textile embedded into the body? It could be everything, but what it’s intersting is that the philips project and the research take literally the imaginary of textile as a second skin, and here lies the magic of these projetcs.

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