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What electronic skin patches can do

November 4th, 2019 / By: / What's New?

Electronic skin patches anchor a device to the skin to achieve a specific function, but most of the successful products on the market are not necessarily known as “electronic skin patches,” says IDTechEx Principal Analyst James Hayward. In a recently published article, Hayward notes the range of uses for electronic skin patches. 

In diabetes management, products include continuous glucose monitoring devices and insulin pumps deployed as so-called “patch-pumps.” In cardiovascular monitoring, devices range from traditional ECG options and inpatient and outpatient monitoring devices to specific products such as Holter monitors, event monitors and other mobile cardiac telemetry devices.

Electronic skin patch products also include axillary temperature sensors, sweat sensors, motion sensors, biopotential (e.g., TENS, EMS) patches, and devices across many other sectors and product categories.

Hayward contends that while devices differ in function, innovation trends remain relatively constant. One common issue is increasing the potential wear time of the patch, which includes managing battery life and power consumption, making them more comfortable and optimizing for specific applications.

Another essential component is the adhesive used to attach devices to the skin. Adhesives need to be strong enough to secure the device and enable its function for as long as needed, but must also be easy to remove, work for all skin types and not cause skin irritation. Innovation trends are moving toward devices that can be increasingly conformal to the skin, using flexible electronics and processes such as screen printing. 

Another key to this wearable technology is the issue of power. Batteries are traditionally challenging components to make flexible and small, but there are increasingly mature and reliable options on the market today, says Hayward.

All of these components will be explored at the Wearable USA: Applications and Commercialization show taking place Nov. 20–21, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif., as part of the IDTechEx Show.