Purdue University researchers have created an advanced sticker sensor that can easily monitor a patient’s heart rate and overall health.

Purdue University researchers have created wearable electronic devices that easily attach to skin. Source: Ramses Martinez/Purdue UniversityPurdue University researchers have created wearable electronic devices that easily attach to skin. Source: Ramses Martinez/Purdue University

"For the first time, we have created wearable electronic devices that someone can easily attach to their skin and are made out of paper to lower the cost of personalized medicine," said Ramses Martinez, a Purdue assistant professor of industrial engineering and biomedical engineering.

The stickers are made of cellulose, which is biocompatible and breathable. It is also thin and stretchable like skin due to its serpentine pattern. It is coated with molecules that repel water, oil, dust and bacteria to maintain adhesion. The sticker can be printed using the same devices that speed-print books and costs only $0.05 to produce.

"The low cost of these wearable devices and their compatibility with large-scale manufacturing techniques will enable the quick adoption of these new fully disposable, wearable sensors in a variety of healthcare applications requiring single-use diagnostic systems," Martinez said.

The sticker monitors physical activity and alerts the wearer of possible health risks in real time. While the team's original goal was heart monitoring, the researchers believe that it could help with more than that. The sticker could help doctors monitor their patients' sleep patterns, for example. Athletes could also use the stickers to monitor health statistics when working out.

The paper on this technology was published in Applied Materials and Interfaces.