Thoughts to control electronics via temporary tattoos: Research


original microchip hand

Telepathy and telekinesis could soon be a reality, essentially making humans achieve ‘super power’ ability to control electronics including drones by thoughts and speech.


According to, Electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind.


Significant progress has been made in the area of brain-controlled robotics in recent years, giving people with disabilities hope of using their machine-assisted limbs. But the most common route to this has been through brain implants – an invasive and long-term procedure.


Now Coleman and his team are developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just  like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.


“We want something we can use in the coffee shop to have fun,” Coleman says.

The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others.

The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.

Using the electronic tattoos, Coleman and his colleagues have found they can detect brain signals reflective of mental states, such as recognition of familiar images. One application they are now pursuing is monitoring premature babies to detect the onset of seizures that can lead to epilepsy or brain development problems. The devices are now being commercialized for use as consumer, digital health, medical device, and industrial and defense products by startup MC10 in Cambridge, Mass.