These Electronic Tattoos Monitor Blood Pressure

A temporary electronic tattoo could be the future of heart health and blood pressure monitoring. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and better blood pressure monitoring could save lives. With this in mind, researchers created a wearable and found that it provides a better baseline and reliable information about heart health.

How Electronic Tattoos Measure Blood Pressure

The electronic tattoos come in the form of thin graphene applied to the wrist, just like any other temporary tattoo. Apply water to a paper backing, wait, and then carefully remove the paper to reveal your new blood pressure cuff, tattoo style. Without all that squeezing, which can elevate blood pressure in itself, tainting results.

The peer-reviewed journal Nature Nanotechology published the study, which we saw on DesignTAXI. Videos from the research (above) show that the electronic tattoos are waterproof and can hold up to normal flexing and movement. Measurements of blood pressure are possible during all normal activities, day and night. The more data, the better!

The blood pressure measuring tattoos are exciting for numerous reasons. The blood pressure cuff was invented over 100 years ago, with only small updates to it over that time span. Digital versions gained popularity in the 1980s, but very little has changed to make blood pressure monitoring easier and more expansive. Fitbits and Apple Watches measure heart rate only, and those companies are working towards reliable blood pressure monitors. But they’re still years away. 

Tattoo dots on the wrist monitor blood pressure
Dmitry Kireev et al/Nature Nanotechnology

Metal Tattoos and Other Wearable Health Devices

All of the research to make this wearable health device possible have come together in recent years. Other groups are perfecting wireless wearable electronics. Some have tested health-monitoring tattoos on pig skin. There are also smart fabrics, like one that can monitor and alter your breathing and one that can hear. And a group of South Korean scientists are working on liquid metal tattoo ink that could one day monitor heart rhythms. According to the video below, it can also be used as a heater for physical therapy treatments.

While we’re on the topic of tattoos, and because we’re always looking for a reason to mention Jeff Goldblum, he rated tattoos of himself for your enjoyment. May lower blood pressure, though that’s not scientifically proven.

Originally published on June 22, 2022.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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