Scientists have created wearable electronic devices that can be easily attached to the skin to monitor physical activity and alert a wearer about possible health risks in real time.
The "smart stickers" are made of cellulose, which is both biocompatible and breathable, according to the study published in the journal Advanced Materials and Interfaces.
"For the first time, we have created wearable electronic devices that someone can easily attach to their skin and are made out of paper to lower the cost of personalised medicine," said Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor at Purdue University in the US.
Health professionals could use the stickers as implantable sensors to monitor the sleep of patients because they conform to internal organs without causing any adverse reactions, researchers said.
Athletes could also use the technology to monitor their health while exercising and swimming, they said.
These stickers are patterned in serpentine shapes to make the devices as thin and stretchable as skin, making them imperceptible for the wearer.
Since paper degrades fast when it gets wet and human skin is prone to be covered in sweat, these stickers were coated with molecules that repel water, oil, dust and bacteria, researchers said.
Each sticker can be made using printing and manufacturing technologies similar to those used to print books at high speed, they said.
"The low cost of these wearable devices and their compatibility with large-scale manufacturing techniques will enable the quick adoption of these new fully disposable, wearable sensors in a variety of health care applications requiring single-use diagnostic systems," Martinez said