Engineers have developed a thin smart patch called Marine Skin that could make the study of the behaviour of marine animals easier and more informative.
It is a system for electronic tagging of animals that is based on stretchable silicone elastomers that can withstand twisting, shearing, and stretching even when exposed to high pressures in deep waters.
“The integrated flexible electronics can track an animal’s movement, diving behaviour, and the health of the surrounding marine environment in real time,” Joanna Nassar, who was one of the members of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology team that developed the patch, said in a statement.
“Using simple design tricks and soft materials, we were able to beat the current standard systems in terms of non-invasiveness, weight, operational lifetime and speed of operation,” Nassar added.
In the current prototype, the location data is supplemented by recordings of water temperature and salinity. Additional sensing capabilities could be added in future. “We are consistently advancing the field of flexible and stretchable electronics by making electronic systems in which every component is physically flexible,” another team member Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, said.
The data is currently retrieved via wireless connection when the tag is removed. In future, the researchers hope to develop remote data retrieval procedures by overcoming the problems of transmitting signals through the water.