Japenese researchers have created a stretchy, ultrathin electric “skin” that can read and display the wearer’s heartbeat. Using built-in electrode sensors and wireless communication, the breathable nanomesh sensor fits flush against the wearer’s skin and records information (like the waveforms of an echocardiogram, for example). It then sends the information its gathered directly to a smartphone, external storage device, or even syncs with the cloud.
The tech, which was brought to life through an academic-industrial collaboration led by Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering, will be displayed and discussed today, February 17th, at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.
As semiconductor technology has improved, so too have applications for wearables that can track vital signs and other health information on the wearer, syncing it up with their smart devices in real time.
The display created by the team of researchers in Japan is a 16 x 24 array of micro LEDs combined with elastic wiring attached to a rubber sheet. Designed for flexibility, it can stretch to 45 percent of its original length. “Our skin display exhibits simple graphics with motion,” Professor Someya said in a press release.”Because it is made from thin and soft materials, it can be deformed freely.”
Image credit: 2018 Takao Someya Research Group.
Wearables are getting more powerful (and often sleeker in design) with each new iteration that hits the market: from wearable MRI devices (which some propose could allow us to read minds) to our first real glimpse into human sleep patterns, to bendable batteries that could drastically improve implants, wearables propelling medicine into the future.
In terms of what it can monitor, the skin display isn’t wildly more advanced than existing technologies, but its seamless nature and interconnectivity make it extremely easy to use. Patients who need constant monitoring of vital signs could use the tech to make sure the information is sent directly from the device to their doctor, but in a way that’s noninvasive, convenient, and reliable.
For patients with limited mobility, being able to have accurate, real-time, remote monitoring that keeps them connected to those overseeing their care, all without the stress of scheduling and getting to an appointment, wearables can be life-changing. Or, at the very
Chinese farmers recently began testing a new AI system that uses a combination of machine vision, voice recognition, and temperature sensors to keep track of pigs’ location, health, and wellbeing.
A new artificial intelligence (AI) project from tech conglomerate Alibaba could alleviate some of the myriad problems facing Chinese farmers in the pork industry.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, and keeping track of the nation’s estimated 700 million animals is notoriously difficult for farmers. They need to pay careful attention to ensure that piglets aren’t crushed to death by their mothers, sows aren’t bred past their prime, and sick pigs don’t pass their illnesses on to the rest of the population.
Currently, farmers track pigs by clipping wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to the animals’ ears. These can be expensive, and farmers don’t always have time to fit each pig with a tag and scan them. They also provide only very basic information about the pigs’ locations — they can’t determine anything about the animals’ health and wellbeing.
This system could change under the new partnership between Alibaba, pig farming corporation Dekon Group, and pig feed manufacturer Tequ Group. In February 2018, they began exploring all the ways farmers could use Alibaba’s AI-powered “ET Brain” to monitor pig populations.
Instead of sporting an RFID tag, each pig in this new system is tattooed with an ID number. Like a high-tech Big Brother, overhead cameras use machine vision technology to track the individual pigs, noting how much each pig moves around the farm and where it goes. The system then combines that information with infrared temperature readings to estimate the animal’s h
The AI system also keeps track of the pigs through voice recognition. It can note the sound of a pig coughing to monitor for disease, and if it detects the sound of a young pig squealing, it alerts the farmer that a piglet could be in danger.
Alibaba told Chinese news outlet Synced this feature alone can lower piglet death rates by three percent. Not only are pigs saved from an early death, farmers save money as each sow produces an additional three piglets per year.