Have you heard of E-Skin? As a wearable, ultra-thin, flexible device, electronic skin (e-skin) involves the convergence of several technologies such as microelectronics, sensors, materials and ICT.
E-skin is rapidly establishing its immense utility in the healthcare industry for monitoring and medical applications such as measuring and sensing anatomical activities.
The expanding aged population and patient pool with chronic diseases is giving a huge boost to technology development, along with high funding, advances in microelectronics and Internet of Things (IoT).
Electronic Skin – Advancements and Emerging Opportunities, a part of Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision (Sensors & Control) Growth Partnership Service program, finds that in a few years, e-skin technology will:
Replace all bulky testing and medical diagnostic devices
The integration of multiple sensors in the e-skin substrates will also open up opportunities in safety and security applications, consumer electronics and robotics.
In electronics, e-skin can replace existing body-worn wearable devices and create a new user-interfacing device for controlling external electronic gadgets. In robotics, e-skin can impart the sense of touch to robots to perform surgical operations without requiring human intervention.
“Emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, near-field communication, advanced materials and fabrication will energize the e-skin market,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Varun Babu. “This technology is expected to mature rapidly in the next five years, and achieve mass-scale manufacturing and deployment in various application areas.”
Although e-skin technology creates innovative products, it faces numerous challenges related to integrating sensors into the human body and data processing. Medical regulatory norms, cost pressures and technology complexity are additional hurdles that it needs to overcome to be considered feasible. In response, manufacturers are employing innovations to resolve the issues of material degradation, lifetime, complex circuitry designing and skin irritation.
“Once the e-skin technology matures, human intervention in industrial machines, healthcare management and many more applications will be greatly reduced,” observed Babu. “E-skin has received both federal and venture capital funding, which is expediting research activities and the commercialization processes. The global rise in the number of patents filed will further encourage investors and set the stage for large-scale implementation of this technology.”