New-Tech Europe Magazine | Q2 2021
The structure of a smart patch is based on printed electronics that VTT, a pioneer in the field, has developed for various actors for about twenty years. A pliable, and even stretchable base material moves from one roll to another, as if in a printing press, and the circuitry is printed on it with conductive ink. Separate components, such as integrated circuits, are attached to the base with conductive adhesive, and that can also be done automatically in the roll-to-roll process. The largest single component on the patch is a button- cell battery, and even that will certainly be replaced in VTT is also developing data analytics which would be capable of evaluating changes in the various measurements and to compare them with other measurements from the patient. At best, the system would produce automatic alarms to sound warnings about changes in the patient’s condition, such as cardiac events or blood poisoning. With the help of the right kinds of analysis, a smart patch could also help people monitor their own fitness and health in the way that smart watches and rings do – only more accurately. VTT expects the first smart patches to reach the market within two or three years. The research projects have already taken a step toward solutions at the next level, epidermal electronics that would be even less noticeable for the user than a smart patch. Some of the research also targets patches that combine electronic measurement of vital functions with biochemical analysis – for measuring sweat, for example. the coming years by a flexible battery. Data analytics helps interpret monitoring results
would send the information to a system that would analyse the data and produce follow-up information and send alarms. For example, a patient recovering from surgery could move about freely while measurements are taken, instead of lying in a bed surrounded by wires”, says research team leader Teemu Alajoki of VTT. Producing smart patches for a few euros by printing electronics Activity bracelets and heart monitor belts are familiar examples of wearable electronics. VTT’s aim is to replace cumbersome devices with smart patches which are nearly unnoticeable, offer excellent comfort for the user, and can be produced in large numbers for just a few euros apiece.
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