Skin patches: the advantages of the ultimate wearable

July 05, 2018 //By James Hayward
Skin patches: the advantages of the ultimate wearable
Electronic skin patches could well be described as the ultimate wearable electronic devices. They deploy electronic components, including sensors and actuators with appropriate processing, energy storage and communication, directly onto the body, typically attached using an adhesive.

Therefore, along with smart apparel and perhaps implantable devices, they serve as one of the most direct means to augment the user with technology.

IDTechEx Research's latest market research report Electronic Skin Patches 2018-2028 covers the entire product ecosystem for smart skin patches. With coverage across 26 application areas, over 85 companies, 95 different product case studies, historic market data and market forecasts to 2028, it is the most comprehensive study compiled for this emerging product area. It reveals significant opportunity, with a forecast for total annual revenues in electronic skin patches to reach over $10bn per year by 2023, and approaching $15bn per year by 2028.

But the case for skin patches must be understood relative to the capabilities of other wearable devices. After all, why bother with a potentially messy, uncomfortable adhesive when a strap or clip onto clothing could be more practical? Firstly, skin patches offer much greater choice in terms of device positioning; as long as there is area for the patch to be attached, they can be placed there. This is particularly relevant when the sensor requires position close to a certain part of the body (e.g. on the upper chest for sensing the heart, around the head for monitoring concussions, etc.). Secondly, a patch allows for a more consistent means for contact between the device and the body. This may be required for the use of an invasive component such as a microneedle, or in offering a more consistent electrical interface for stable sensor readings.

These advantages are particularly relevant in the two largest application sectors for electronic skin patches today: cardiovascular monitoring and diabetes management. The report looks at both of these sections in detail, characterizing the features of the electronic skin patch products being used, the major players, competitive product options and market outlook. 

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