We use cookies to give you the best personal experience on our website. If you continue to use our site without changing your cookie settings, you agree we may place these cookies on your device. You can change your cookie settings at any time but if you do , you may lose some functionality on our website . More information can be found in our privacy policy.
Please provide more information.
Stylus no longer supports Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Please upgrade to IE 11, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge. This will ensure you have the best possible experience on the site.
Brief Published: 1 May 2015

Mind-Reading Digital Tattoo

Flexible electronics

Scientists from the University of Illinois have developed a tiny electronic patch, worn behind the ear, which monitors users' brain activity and can even be used to control electronic devices.

The stick-on 'skin' of gold electrodes can be worn for up to two weeks, staying put while wearers are running, sleeping and even swimming. The patch is unobtrusive compared to the bulky electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets normally worn to read brain activity, giving it considerable potential in the consumer electronics market.

Though currently intended for medical purposes such as monitoring seizures, the technology could become a passive controller, allowing the connected devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) to better respond to individual needs. For example, it could signal a connected coffee pot to turn on when your brain activity indicates you're waking up, or synchronise smart light bulbs to your sleep cycles.

For more on how wearables will humanise the IoT, see our reporting from the Wearable Tech Show 2015.

Other recent examples of skin-worn electronics include Stretchable Skin Stickers, which unlock mobile devices, and Project Underskin, an embedded wearable concept designed to transfer data, unlock doors and monitor the body's health.