How is the market for electronic skin (e-skin) wearables?
The global market for stretchable electronics (e-skin) itself around US$400M but its application encompasses wide-ranging use of wearables in various markets which is worth US$300bn. About 60% of wearables are pretty much limited to the wrist and with the head a distant second.
There are many parts of the body which could do with specifically designed wearables such as for the spine, private body parts, fingers, toes etc. using stretchable electronic skin-based wearables. We are talking about expanding the global wearables market which up till now have been limited to certain parts of the body, with products coming from a limited number of companies.
What are the latest trends and opportunities in the e-skin wearables overall?
There are multiple opportunities for the e-skin wearables in the market. Currently focus in academia & Industry is on tactile sensing capabilities such as strain, pressure, and temperature are important for health monitoring in skin attachable wearables, and for object manipulation & detection for robotics and prosthetics.
Start-ups in the US, Europe and Asia are focusing on stretchable conductive inks and use cases, i.e. gaming, rehabilitation, smart-clothing, and Industry 4.0 using e-skin based soft sensors.
What are the upcoming technologies in e-skin and health tech space that we can expect to see?
There are emerging trends in e-skin wearables which have created a dramatic impact on human-computer interaction and human-machine interfaces, mainly using neural electrodes, EOG, EEG technologies.
In the healthcare sector, disposable ECG, EMG, EEG patches, ultra-thin thermal patches, fitness measurement patches, etc. provides a new way for the affordable and disposable sensor patches which can help “UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.
How are you different from your competitors, given that there are so many players in the market?
Stretchable electronics-based technology players are mainly from the US, Switzerland, Germany, and Finland with the primary focus on VR gloves, Stretchable Cables, and Industry4.0.
StretchSkin’s stretchable electronics-based wearables take on a hybrid combination of soft functional materials, compliant membranes, sensors and integrated functional chip components to achieve mechanical reliability and sensitivity along with high flexibility and stretchability attributes. We use high-performance sensing materials in a polymer matrix due to its excellent electrical and mechanical properties. At the same time, it also has biocompatible qualities making it suitable for the human skin. A conforming contact will allow continuous, real-time monitoring of body movements and detect a subtle change of motion.
StretchSkin primary focus is on Active Gaming which is the combination of Rehab and Gaming using soft wearable sensors (ESKEENTM), and in the near future, we will enhance this solution using smart clothing. For VR/ MR, Industry 4.0, we have planned to work as an OEM with other companies. Ultimately, we would like to establish ourselves in the fitness and wellness area with a wide variety of wearables using stretchable electronics.
Being a start-up based in Singapore, what potential do you see in India as a market, and when are you planning to start your operations here.
Well, India has a diverse population with approximately 81% of people less than 44 years old made it a great destination for fitness tech e-skin wearables. At the same time, e-sports is also emerging in the Indian gaming industry. StretchSkin is seeing a huge opportunity in fitness & wellness and gaming area for its affordable and variety of ESKEEN wearables from sensors for measuring different body joints to finger & glove-based wearables for high level of immersive experiences.
Our sensor R&D and fabrication facility will remain in Singapore but we are further talking to US based soft sensor manufacturers for the mass manufacturing of variety of StretchSkin wearables.
We are expecting to expand our operations in India by the end of second quarter of 2021. Mainly, India operations will be on data analytics, game development, hardware design and testing.
What will be your first product launch in India?
StretchSkin first product is Virtual Exercise Therapy System (VETS) which comes with data-driven personalized recommendation is under pilot testing at elderly care centres in Singapore. Soon, we will apply for the necessary certification. We have also made affordable data gloves for gaming and active rehab, which are under internal evaluation. Rehab gloves and body joints measurement soft wearables will be available separately, which can be used with the developed android apps and further can be integrated with VETS for further advanced data-driven recommendations.