The industry associated with healthcare and well-being (not just pharmaceuticals) has grown tremendously in recent years, both due to technological advances and to an aging society in many countries. Organic and printed electronics plays an increasingly important role in this industry. Such products as smart blister packages for pharmaceuticals to monitor dosage compliance, pressure sensors in shoes, glucose monitors and simple ECG patches are already in the market and a flexible, textile integrated antenna for magnetic resonance imaging was also recently introduced. More detailed wireless ECG monitoring has already been demonstrated to be reliable in clinical tests and the commercialization of other body and environmental measurement sensors is expected soon. Light therapy masks based on OLEDs will enter the market in the near future and (in an overlap with consumer electronics) flexible displays are enhancing the functionality of smart watches as well as other body function trackers, and enabling other wearable displays for health, sports and wellbeing purposes. Advanced prototypes of skin-mounted health monitoring such as OLED/OPD enabled flexible blood oximetry, printed batteries for disposable low-power lab-on-a-chip systems, and wireless have been demonstrated and commercialization is expected soon. Printed diagnostic sensors are already commercial, and new one-way integrated diagnostic systems are being further developed. Certain developments are initially commercialized for sports and recreation applications, where regulatory pressure is less strict and danger from possible failure is smaller.
Vital parameters on display
© University of Tokyo
Flexible displays to show vital signs and other parameters, while not constraining the patient’s movement.
Electrodes directly printed onto a patient’s body enable the direct read-out of body parameters, such as skin temperature, heart frequency, etc.© University of Tokyo
Flexible wireless on-skin sensors to enable the tracking of motion or measurement of vital parameters.© VTT