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Tattoos You Can Use
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Tattoos You Can Use

Credit: Robert Lopez
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This isn't a real tattoo on the arm above. Tiny electronic devices called “electronic tattoos” aren’t real tattoos either, but someday you may wear them on your skin. What are electronic tattoos, and why would you want to wear them? Keep reading to find out.

Why It Matters

  • Electronic monitoring has become a staple of modern medicine, from thermometers too heart rate monitors.
  • What if you could wear tiny electronic monitoring devices directly on your skin? Such devices would be able to monitor your body systems continuously without the bother of carrying bulky devices around with you.
  • The problem is that skin is flexible and electronics are not—at least they weren’t until recently.
  • Credit: Jurii
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silicon.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Silicon is the foundation of many electronics such as electronic tattoos [Figure2]

     

  • Two engineers have found a way to make tiny electronic monitors that you can wear on your skin like stick-on tattoos.
  • Watch this video to see how they used the technological design process to do it: http://www.nbclearn.com/science-of-innovation/cuecard/62961

What do you think?

At the link below, learn more about electronic tattoos and how they were developed. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is silicon, and why is it used in electronic devices?
  2. What was the first breakthrough in the design of a flexible electronic device?
  3. How else were the engineers able to change the silicon?
  4. What natural model did the engineers use to figure out a way to stick the silicon to skin?
  5. What are two ways the engineers think that electronic tattoos may be used in the future?
  6. What do you think? What might be some other potential uses for electronic tattoos?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Robert Lopez; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Jurii; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silicon.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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