With a Graphene-Based Wearable, You May Never Have to Wear a Fitness Tracker Again

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Mobile World Congress didn’t give much to look forward to in the wearables space in 2019, but one company provided a glimpse of what we might see a few years down the line.

The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) is currently developing a disposable patch packed with graphene sensors that measures vitals like heart rate, hydration temperature, UV exposure, oxygen saturation, temperature, and breath rate. Rather than using an LED light, which is found on most fitness trackers, it uses ambient light that passes through the optical sensors, hits the skin, and comes back to read your vitals.

At MWC19, ICFO showcased its tech in two different versions. The first packed the technology into a flexible material the size and shape of a quarter. The second version was what it will actually look like by the end—a thin sticker that resembles a fake tattoo; ICFO displayed it on the wrist of a mannequin. With a built-in NFC antenna, you’ll be able to read your vitals by scanning your phone over it.

During the demo, a circular sticker was placed onto the jacket of the mannequin, but it was only capable of measuring UV exposure. After scanning a smartphone over it, the display showed the UV index and how much time was remaining under that condition. Ultimately, it will also provide tips like whether you should apply more sunscreen.

Having the ability to stick it onto your skin is important, though. While a smartwatch can measure similar vitals, it moves around a lot on your wrist, which can cause problems in data collection and provide faulty metrics. But ICFO’s patch would conform to the skin, so it moves with you.

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About the National Graphene Association (NGA)

The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.

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