Here’s a tattoo your mom might actually condone you getting.
The temporary, electronic “tattoo,” developed by a team of scientists at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, sticks to skin and uses a carbon electrode and a conductive polymer to measure biometric signals for hours. When worn on the face, the electrodes are sensitive enough to record variations in muscle activity, which can identify expressions and even emotions, according to a paper published last month in the journal Scientific Report.
“We were initially developing carbon nanotube-based electrodes which we originally wanted to use as implantable electrodes,” lead researcher Yael Hanein told Digital Trends. “Knowing full well the dire need for dry skin electrodes, we thought about applying our technology for EEG and EMG. Sticking carbon nanotubes directly against the skin seemed to be problematic, so we looked for alternative fabrication and material …”
Subtlety mapping emotions gives physicians and researchers a number of valuable insights into an person’s state, which can help confirm or call into question what’s been verbally expressed.
For one, the electronic tattoo can supplement psychological evaluations inside and outside of the clinic. Where psychologically healthy people respond in relatively predictable ways to positive and negative stimuli, Hanein points out that patients who suffer from psychological disorders tend to respond abnormally.
As Orwellian as it sounds, Hanein suggests the tattoo may also help organizations monitor the performance and emotional state of their employees. Disgruntled workers may be bad for business, but distressed workers can be downright dangerous in certain work within construction and transportation. By mapping facial expressions, the electronic tattoo could help identify warning signs that an employee is distressed or unsuited for a particular task.
Lastly, Hanein sees the device may used in focus groups to map how participants respond to advertisements, entertainment, and products. This emotional monitoring may give more accurate feedback than the participants written or spoken responses.
The device is currently being tested in a medical setting, as an early diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease in collaboration with physicians at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. “As the disease is characterized by different motor problems, identifying those may help physician better identify the disease and better monitor the efficacy of pharmacological and other interventions,” Hanein said.
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