New electronic tattoo can read emotions

By: | Published: July 12, 2016 4:36 PM

The tattoo consists nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the carbon electrode's performance.

The tattoo consists nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the carbon electrode's performance. (AP)The tattoo consists nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the carbon electrode’s performance. (AP)

Scientists have created a new adhesive “electronic tattoo” that can read emotions, an advance that can improve muscle control of amputees and patients with brain injuries.

The tattoo consists nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the carbon electrode’s performance.

It records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.

The electrode, developed by Yael Hanein of Tel Aviv University in Israel, may improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue – and may even lead to new insights into our emotional life.

One major application of the new electrode is the mapping of emotion by monitoring facial expressions through electric signals received from facial muscles.

“The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” said Hanein.

“Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals, and others – all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations,” he said.

“Researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analysing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software,” Hanein added.

“But our skin electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution,” he said.

The device was first developed as an alternative to electromyography, a test that assesses the health of muscles and nerve cells.

It is an uncomfortable and unpleasant medical procedure that requires patients to lie sedentary in the lab for hours on end.

Often a needle is stuck into muscle tissue to record its electrical activity, or patients are swabbed with a cold, sticky gel and attached to unwieldy surface electrodes.

“Our tattoo permits patients to carry on with their daily routines, while the electrode monitors their muscle and nerve activity,” said Hanein.

According to him, the new skin electrode has other important therapeutic applications.

The tattoo can be used to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

“The physiological data measured in specific muscles may be used in the future to indicate the alertness of drivers on the road; patients in rehabilitation following stroke or brain injury may utilise the ‘tattoo’ to improve muscle control; and amputees may employ it to move artificial limbs with remaining muscles,” said Hanein.

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