With technology influencing almost every aspect of our modern lives, it seems that many entrepreneurs have set their minds to developing the ‘next big thing’. Today, a thought-piece in The Age introduced Australians to the idea of ‘smart-skin': a technology that might help Aussies monitor their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
The idea of ‘smart-skin’ is gaining a lot of traction at RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems department. Essentially, a rubber band or other electronic sensors would monitor UV levels around the skin. Stretchy, skin-like sensor pads would feed real-time data back to a central unit, which could then alert the wearer to potentially harmful exposure.
Material scientist, Philipp Gutruf, told The Age that the benefits of the technology were manifold.
“If you are at the beach you could wear this device like a rubber band around your wrist or as a skin patch and jump into the ocean, it will be able to monitor the UV levels and tell you if you have had too much,” he explained.
With new research published in the scientific journal Small, the team behind the innovation made a significant breakthrough in the production of the unique sensors. Instead of using a silicone base for the machine, the use of rubber has allowed for the developers to make the technology even more adaptable.
In the long run, the RMIT team says their cheap and replaceable ‘smart-skin’ may offer further benefits to industry and the world at large. For example, the sensors can also be adapted to detect hydrogen and nitrogen dioxide levels, a factor which is critical in mine and other mineral resource-based work.
“The smart thing here is that with these sensors can be integrated very easily,” Mr. Gutruf added. “Either into clothing or onto the skin. It is a seamless way on integrating sensors on to the human body.”
These kinds of scientific developments offer exciting and tantalising glimpses into the future of technology and its potential impacts on the very essence of the human body. Here’s hoping the RMIT team keeps up their trail blazing work.
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