Researchers at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology showed off a stretchable heart rate monitor prototype that can be stuck onto the skin like a Band-Aid. The prototype is part of their progress in building “stretchable” devices as their next big development in display technology.
The heart rate monitor uses a new technology where an OLED display can be stretched by up to 30 percent. When it’s stuck on your wrist, the sensor could pick up a heartbeat signal that is “2.4 times stronger” than if it was picked up by a fixed silicon sensor.
The prototype can be stretched because it’s built from a specially designed flexible material known as elastomer—which is a polymer compound with “excellent elasticity and resilience”. Elastomer has been treated to resist the heat from integrated electronics and has a particular grid-like “island” structure. Samsung’s engineers said that the prototype will still work as normal “after being stretched 1,000 times”.
“The strength of this technology is that it allows you to measure your biometric data for a longer period without having to remove the solution when you sleep or exercise, since the patch feels like part of your skin. You can also check your biometric data right away on the screen without having to transfer it to an external device.” said Samsung’s Principal Researcher Youngjun Yun.
Youngjun Yun added that the technology can be expanded to use in wearable healthcare products for adults, children and infants. It could also be used for “patients with certain diseases” who might find stick-on heart rate monitors handy.
Their research is still in its early stages, but they aim to commercialise stretchable devices after they figure out how to increase system resolution, stretchability, and measurement accuracy. It doesn’t look like stretchable phones are their priority, though, as Samsung’s Principal Researcher Jong Won Chung plans to use stretchable sensors for measuring things like peripheral oxygen saturation, electromyogram readings and blood pressure.
While stretchable phones might not yet be a thing so soon, Samsung previously unveiled a slide-able screen model, which kind of looks like a stretched out screen. Samsung reportedly holds a patent on this type of technology.