TAU electromyographic ‘tattoo’ could let pollsters and media experts poll human emotions

Electromyography – recording electrical signals through the skin – is familiar to many patients as an unpleasant medical procedure.

June 26, 2016 17:47
1 minute read.
A temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University researchers.

A temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University researchers.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University researchers can record electrical signals through the skin – making many lab visits unnecessary – and possibly allow mapping of emotions and improvement of therapeutic and rehabilitation processes, which could lead to a wide variety of applications.

Electromyography – recording electrical signals through the skin – is familiar to many patients as an unpleasant medical procedure as a cold, sticky gel is applied to the skin to enhance conductivity, and the person must be in the lab for some time to get results.

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Now, Prof. Yael Hanein, head of TAU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and colleagues have developed a comfortable and novel skin electrode that will replace the old procedure and allow patients to carry on with their daily routines, while at the same time monitoring their muscle activity for a range of medical and other purposes.

The study, conducted within the framework of an EU project, was recently presented at a TAU international nanomedicine workshop.

“The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” said Hanein. “Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals and others all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations. Today, with no accurate scientific tools available, they rely mostly on inevitably subjective questionnaires. To address this need, researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via facial photos and smart software. Our skin electrode provides a simple, convenient solution: monitoring expressions and emotions based on the electric signals received from facial muscles.”

The researchers have already used the technology at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center to monitor the muscle activity of patients with neurodegenerative diseases; physiological data measured in specific muscles.

It also could be used in the future to indicate the alertness of drivers on the road; enable stroke patients to improve their muscle control; and help amputees move artificial limbs with their remaining muscles.


The “tattoo” consists of a carbon electrode, adhesive surface that attaches them to the skin and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode’s performance. It records a strong and steady signal for many hours and does not irritate the skin.

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