Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

No sweat

A perspiration-proof skin patch can monitor health over time.

August 24, 2021
e-skin prototype
Felice Frankl

MIT engineers and researchers in South Korea have developed a sweat-proof, sensor-­filled “electronic skin”—a conformable, sticky patch that monitors health without malfunctioning or peeling away, even when the wearer is perspiring.

The patch is patterned with artificial sweat ducts, similar to human skin pores. The ducts allow sweat to escape, preventing skin irritation and damage to the sensors embedded in the patch. 

The researchers, led by associate professor of mechanical engineering Jeehwan Kim and postdoc Hanwool Yeon, found that a patch with a periodic pattern of circular holes spaced closer together than the width of a human sweat pore let sweat escape. It wasn’t very stretchable, however, and broke easily when applied to skin. Cutting channels between the holes helped. A pattern of repeating dumbbells, when etched into a material (as shown above), produced a stretchable, kirigami-­like effect.

In a week-long test, the patch reliably measured a volunteer’s temperature, hydration levels, UV exposure, and pulse, even during sweat-inducing activities like running for 30 minutes and consuming a spicy meal. Such patches could one day track daily vitals or the progression of skin cancer. 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.