Aah, evolution – One of the most highly debated subjects our culture has ever seen. Whether it’s for religious reasons or a totally different set of reasons entirely, people seem to love arguing about how evolution works. Even what can be defined as evolution is different enough in differing points of view to warrant plenty of discussions.
But as long as these discussions are kept peaceful, for the sake of knowledge, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. But alas, we’re soon in for a new era of controversy, as a team of Japanese scientists developed E-skin that can digitally display vital signs, opening the door to new concepts and arguments on evolution.
Before we dive into the invention itself, let’s talk for a bit about why exactly this e-skin will spur so much controversy. It’s not just my personal opinion, it’s more like something of a trend that has been popping up for a long time – people aren’t comfortable with what’s different. This can be easily observed in the looks and comments thrown at individuals with visible tattoos or piercings.
Whether it’s for religious reasons (“God made you the way you are, so why would you change that?”), or for ethical reasons (“If we start implanting ourselves with technology, where will we stop?”), people will find a motive to criticize and to go against those that are different. And going for implantable tech can be viewed as enough of a moral dilemma to generate countless hours of talk show debates.
Now that the public opinion is out of the way, let’s talk science. The Japanese team that thought of and developed the device did so out of a desire to improve the world, to develop new useful technologies that would serve the people. And they did so in the most scientific way possible.
By alternating layers of inorganic and organic material (silicon oxynitrite and parylene), the team created a high-durability, high-quality protective film less than two micrometers thick that prevents the passage of oxygen and vapor in the air, prolonging the device’s life. Additionally, by attaching transparent indium tin oxide electrodes to an ultrathin substrate without causing it any damage, they made the e-skin display possible.
So what this new e-skin do exactly, other than stir up controversies and display things? Well, the film is so thin that it can be easily integrated into artificial skin, making for a very good medical tool. It can be easily attached to the body and made to display vital signs, like blood oxygen level, heart rate, and others.
This can be very useful for patients known to suffer from particularly trick heart conditions, but it has so much more potential than that. By further developing the process, we can one day simply stick it onto our bodies and have fully integrated displays for a wide number of applications. Only imagination is the limit.
Image source: BBC News