Getting accurate, timely information on a person's vital signs will soon be as easy as putting on a skin patch that's like a temporary tattoo, according to

The collaboration between a group of University of Illinois scientists and Northwestern University engineers has produced a super-thin patch, replete with tiny wireless antennas, light-emitting diodes, solar cells, transistors, and sensors.

According to its creators, the patch has the capability to perform a multitude of functions, including brain-wave and vital-sign monitoring. Thinner than a fingernail and applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo, the patch has been designed to be barely noticeable to the person wearing it.

The patch could lessen the stress and inconvenience for elderly patients with chronic illnesses who require frequent monitoring. Keeping track of vital signs and other biological functions often requires tangles of wires, conductive gel, and occasionally the insertion of pins into a patient's body.

There is potential to make human healthcare and rehabilitation much more efficient and effective,” says John Rogers, research scientist.

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Known as "epidermal electronics," this medical technology has the potential to deliver analytics on blood flow, heart rate, muscle activity, and characteristics of motion.  Rehabilitative medicine, and research studies dependent on frequent measures of biofeedback could all benefit from the introduction of simpler health monitoring for patients.