A stamp-size smart wearable with big potential
A technology incorporated into a sticker about the size of a large postage stamp and as thin as a human hair could provide a more comfortable method for monitoring patient health or eliminate tickets to sporting events and concerts. Called the Wearable Interactive Stamp Platform (WiSP), the patented technology was developed by MC10, a company that first commercialized the smart stamp concept with a UV monitoring thin patch developed in conjunction with cosmetic maker L'Oreal and announced earlier this year.
The key to a WiSP smart stamp or patch is its use of near field communication (NFC) to securely store and transmit data collected from the enabled smart stamps. NFC is a set of communication protocols that allow two electronic devices to communicate by bringing them in close proximity to one another – usually within 2 inches (4 cm). In this case, the information on a WiSP smart stamp would be read by either an NFC reader or a smart device with NFC capability.
MC10 has addressed possible security concerns by incorporating data protection and a field programmable read-only locking function. Removing a WiSP smart stamp at any time also makes them unreadable, and once removed they can be thrown away.
A variety of smart patch and tattoo-like monitoring devices have been developed as a result of university and related research projects, but many of those have been developed with a single use in mind, like lactate sensors for athletes or heart monitors for the general public.
What makes the WiSP technology different is its potential for a multitude of uses and the way it's constructed. A WiSP smart stamp consists of a layer with the antenna and NDC chip, attached to another layer made of a medical-grade adhesive that allows it to stretch and contract with the movement of the skin. A thin layer allowing for a customizable graphic and another layer made of a UV protective liner sit on top of the antenna and NFC chip.
The WiSP smart stamp can be worn for up to two days, and that evidently includes wearing it while engaging in strenuous activity, showering or sleeping.
MC10 recently announced it was partnering with PCH International, a product design company, to commercialize MC10's WiSP technology. Neither company is saying when the technology might be available in consumer or medical applications, or how much it might cost. They did mention that future uses could include consumer applications like cashless payments, hotel room access and event registration, or clinical environments where patient information could be collected and transported more easily.