This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.

A research team led by Dr. Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo and Dai Nippon Printing has succeeded in developing a full-color Skin Display that can be attached to the skin.

Skin Display is a display device that integrates a thin, expandable display with drive and communication circuits and a power supply.

It features an ultra-flexible electronic circuit board that can withstand repeated expansion and contraction. Ordinary film boards can be bent and rounded, but they cannot withstand repeated expansion and contraction. The team has developed a new type of "stretchable hybrid electron" that enables electrode wiring that does not change its resistance when bent and stretched. They have realized an electronic circuit board that expands and contracts in accordance with the movement of the skin by incorporating innovations that prevent disconnection when bent or stretched.

The Skin Display, which applies this electronic circuit board, was announced in February 2018 in a monochromatic version, but this time it incorporates 12 x 12 full-color LEDs (144 pixels) to achieve full color. The overall thickness of the device is approximately 2 mm and the electrical and mechanical properties are not compromised by repeated expansion and contraction of up to approximately 130%. It does not interfere with a person's movement when directly attached to the skin, greatly reducing the burden of wearing it.

The drive voltage of the display unit is 3.7 volts, the display speed is 60Hz, and the maximum power consumption is 100 Milliwatt. The control circuitry and battery are also mounted on the periphery of the display area, allowing the display content to be controlled externally via Bluetooth Low Energy on a display that is attached to the back of the hand.

The use of copper as a wiring material allows the product to be manufactured using standard electronic component manufacturing processes. The ability to mass-produce this product with a high degree of mass productivity allows for early commercialization and future cost reduction.

Bendable displays have already begun to be used in a variety of commercial devices, including Samsung's Galaxy Fold folding smartphone, but only a few prototypes in the research and development stage have been reported for ultra-thin displays that can stretch and shrink or stick to the skin. It is said to be the world's first time that hundreds of LEDs have been able to display full-color video without a single pixel failure, while fitting to the human skin and following human movement.

The University of Tokyo and Dai Nippon Printing's research team has the following to say about future applications of skin displays

By integrating the skin display's communication and driving circuits and power supply, it can be used as a stand-alone communication tool. For example, a message of support from a distant person could be displayed by LED light as if it were illuminated on a part of the body. As a result, it is expected to have the effect of making the recipient of the message feel closer to the sender than with social networking or email communication. In the new normal society of the future, which has experienced the devastating effects of the corona crisis, this has the potential to compensate for the lack of non-verbal communication elements that have been unconsciously established in face-to-face communication. In addition, skin electronics using display elements and various sensors could provide a new means of sharing sensory information with a person with whom we are communicating, because devices that are attached to the skin can be used to sense body movements and physical conditions without having to wear bulky devices. We will continue to study the effects on communication of these sensing devices that are displayed close to the body surface. Human-friendly skin electronics are expected to greatly improve the accessibility of information compared to smartphones and tablets, and improve the quality of life (QOL) of all generations, from children to the elderly. DNP (Dai Nippon Printing) will soon begin practical verification of skin electronics.

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.