Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

No sweat

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

August 24, 2021
e-skin prototype
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

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration 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.