With increasing investments in R&D to develop self-healing, comfortable monitoring systems, a recent report indicates that electronic skin is gaining momentum. Currently, about 32 percent of the total revenue for this market is being generated by adoption of electronic skin in healthcare. The report from Future Market Insights forecasts “bullish prospects” for revenue growth through e-skin adoption in healthcare, at around 20 percent year over year in 2019.

The report defines electronic skin as “a thin, flexible, and stretchable membrane embedded with electronic components that possesses sensing abilities.” The technology is intended to reproduce the abilities of human or animal skin, owing to which electronic skin generates an appropriate response to environmental stimuli, such as changes in pressure and heat. Key market participants profiled in the report include MC10, Physical Optics Corp­oration, Dialog Semiconductor, Intele­sens Ltd., 3M, and Koninklijke.

A dramatically rising rate of chronic disease and an aging population that is more susceptible to acquiring chronic conditions is driving potential applications, says the report. The flexibility and ultra-thin nature of electronic skin are emerging as key attributes pushing its adoption, making it an ideal candidate for wearable medical devices.

Because electronic skin incorporates the use of integrated sensors to monitor environmental changes, it is being incorporated into wearables for monitoring health and physiological conditions. According to the report, chronic changes in diet and lifestyle and an increase in fitness awareness is estimated to further drive the global electronic skin market. Electronic skin patches and related equipment facilitates the remote management of chronic diseases while offering complete independence to the patient. Growing awareness regarding electronic skin technology and the ever-increasing acceptance of remote patient monitoring equipment will also drive its integration into wearables.

The report also notes that researchers are focusing on enhancing electronic skin technology for applications such as a robotic hand that features the dexterity of a human hand. In this example, an integrated rubber substrate electronic skin enables the robotic hand to detect and measure pressure, which allows it to control the applicable force parameter. Such advances could facilitate autonomous robotic surgery in the future.

This electronic skin-integrated auton­omous robotic equipment might carry out complex surgeries without any human intervention. However, the report notes that more research is required before the technology is ready for complex surgical uses. So for now, this technology best suited for repetitive experimental tasks such as lifting an egg and carrying it from one point to another.

Sherrie Trigg

Editor and Director of Medical Content

For more information on the report, go here .