Breathable, Implantable Microcomputers that Conform to the Human Body

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Traditional tech devices have been rigid and boxy. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup MC10 aims to change that. The company is developing flexible and stretchable electronics that preserve the performance of silicon while enabling new form factors that can be bent or stretched to conform to soft and irregular surfaces and can be used for a variety of medical applications.


In April 2012, MC10’s Chief Executive Officer David Icke described the technology and a variety of potential applications at TEDMED, a three day annual conference where cutting-edge science and technology leaders “connect, understand and inspire” to advance the art of health and medicine with new ideas, the latest science and innovative technology.

During his talk, Icke asked:

What if electronics were soft and pliable like our skin or like a balloon? What if electronics conformed to us instead of us conforming to them?

This would allow innovation on form, which could change our behaviors and how we manage our health and practice medicine. Icke and colleagues at MC10 have created a sticky patch they call a “biostamp,” a smart sensing skin that can be placed anywhere on or under the skin to monitor, detect changes or simply measure vital signs.

What kind of applications does the technology enable? During his presentation, Icke offers several suggestions:

  • For the first responder: person-down triage patch that quickly determines vital signs
  • For the contact sports athlete (or children!): a wearable device that can monitor for concussion
  • For the diabetic: a tattoo-like sticker to detect hypoglycemia
  • For the elderly: a sensor for congestive heart failure
  • For the cardiologist: soft and expandable sensors and stimulators on a smart catheter
  • For the surgeon: a stretchy sheet of sensors that can measure what’s happening on tissue or organs

Check out Icke’s TEDMED talk in the video below.

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