Photo/IllutrationA flexible LED device can be attached on the back of a patient's hand to display his or her electrocardiograph. (Provided by the University of Tokyo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

A Japanese team has developed a skin-thin LED device that can be directly applied on the human body and coupled with a wearable sensor to display information about the wearer’s health.

The researchers expect applications to home-based medical care will allow doctors to remotely monitor patients’ conditions via the Internet, and send notifications to the display such as reminders to take medication.

They aim to put the technologies into practical use in three years or so.

A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo and the Research & Development Center of Dai Nippon Printing Co. (DNP) reported the development at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in the United States on Feb. 17.

Takao Someya, professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo, who led the research, said the advantages of the devices are that “a pulse and body temperature can be monitored without causing trouble to patients,” and “the information is easy to access.”

A sample device showcased by the team has about 400 LEDs evenly laid out on a 1-millimeter thick rubber sheet that can be stretched and twisted, enabling it to display letters, diagrams and moving images.

The team engineered the sheet so the stress of flexing is dispersed and the electric circuit within it would not break.

It passed a 10,000-stretch durability test, and can be applied to parts of the body that flex a lot, such as the back of a hand.

The research team also developed an improved wearable sensor that can monitor the heart when applied to the chest.

Cardiograph data can be transmitted wirelessly to online storage, fed to the display applied on the patient’s body, or remotely checked by doctors.

Hiroki Maeda, a member of the research team from the Research & Development Center of DNP, said, “(These technologies) can be applied in the realm of sports."