McCormick professor’s invention featured in Museum of Modern Art fashion exhibit

Elizabeth Byrne, Assistant Campus Editor

McCormick Prof. John Rogers’ work no longer exists in just his lab. The Museum of Modern Art features his “Lab on the Skin” technology in an exhibit that opened Oct. 1.

His work features a thin “microfluidic device” that adheres to skin and measures the wearer’s sweat, according to a University news release. The invention is part of a new exhibit, “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” that runs through the end of January.

According to the MoMA website, the exhibit will feature 111 items of clothing and accessories that have made an impact on 20th and 21st century fashion and culture.

“It’s supercool, that’s the best way I can describe it,” Rogers said in the release. “It never even entered my consciousness that this would be presented as an opportunity. We’re pretty good at science and engineering, but we never imagined that our work would be recognized for its artistic value, particularly at this level.”

Rogers led the research team that created the device. In November 2016, the group published its research in the journal “Science Translational Medicine.”

During use, the device captures sweat and analyzes its chemistry, according to a 2016 news release. Users can then monitor various measurements — including glucose and pH levels — on a cell phone app.

Rogers said design was also an important factor when building the device. He said it was important for the device to be thin and skin-like so it was “an interface for the skin that is more like a temporary tattoo, rather than a Fitbit,” he said.

“As engineers, we work hard to develop new science and advanced technologies with the potential for broad societal value,” Rogers said. “This exhibit is a great way to highlight new technologies and where things are going, in terms of the intersection between art and engineering.”

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