Electronic Tattoos

Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible

by Charles Q. Choi, io9.com  |  published on February 25, 2013

Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind, techniques virtually everyone might be able to use.

Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons.

But brain implants are invasive technologies, probably of use only to people in medical need of them. Instead, Coleman and his team are developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

“We want something we can use in the coffee shop to have fun,” Coleman says.

The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others.

The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.

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