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  • The material can stick to a person’s body and doesn’t lose display brightness when stretched.
  • Important vitals could be drawn from the body and displayed directly on the polymer’s surface.
  • Researchers estimate that medical and commercial use of the polymer will be possible in 5 years.

Researchers at Stanford University have created a new type of polymer that glows and emits light. The synthetic plastic material was used to build a color display reminiscent of digital screens, but can be stretched and flexed while remaining intact.

According to WedMD, the material can stick to a person’s body and doesn’t lose display brightness when stretched, unlike previous iterations of the polymer. The material has implications for use in health and fitness technology, offering an alternative to wrist devices such as Fitbits and Apple Watches.

Stanford’s study of the polymer has been ongoing for 3 years. The researchers hypothesize that the polymer will eventually be used extensively in the medical and fitness sectors. Important vitals could be drawn from the body and displayed directly on the polymer’s surface, which could be accessed by healthcare providers over telehealth appointments.

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“The future of this stretchy technology will lead to advancements in telemedicine because it can offer real-time information displays,” said Zhenan Bao, a chemical engineer involved with the project. “If we can make them truly skin-like, then the possibilities are really limited by one’s imagination. And that is what we are aiming for.”

Bao estimates that medical and commercial use of the polymer will be possible in 5 years.