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second skin


Kickoff :  July 2018
End date: August 2020

Dr. Francesca CAMERA joins SECOND SKIN team


Premiazione in Regione Lazio

Dr. Francesco AMATO joins SECOND SKIN team





   BioIntegrated Wireless Sensors for the Epidermal Monitoring
   Reactivation of Sensorial Injuries

     Sistemi wireless bio-integrati per il monitoraggio dell’epidermide e il ripristino di funzionalità tattili

March 26, 2019
Tor Vergata University
more info



Progetto realizzato con il contributo della Regione Lazio,
Conoscenza e cooperazione per un nuovo modello di sviluppo (L.R. 13/2008 -art. 4)

Prof. Gaetano MARROCCO
Prof. Pier Paolo VALENTINI
Prof. Alberto BERGAMINI

Eng. Simone NAPPI
Eng. Carolina MIOZZI
Eng. Giulio M. BIANCO
Dr. Francesco AMATO
Dr. Francesca CAMERA




The proposal is inspired by the pioneering basic research that already involves the proponents about the study of wireless devices suitable to be placed in direct contact with human skin having the fundamental characteristic of being able to run without battery and to be able to be concentrated in the encumbrance of a plaster or even a tattoo. Previous research, which has already had the opportunity to cement the various complementarities of the proponent research group, have shown that it is possible to use a widespread wireless technology in the logistics of goods, such as Radiofrequency Identification (RFID), to power radio devices. -electronic devices applied to the skin and read the information they acquire up to a distance of about one meter.
It is now necessary to move on to Step Two of this new research, that is to study how to arrive at truly applicable devices in terms of materials, reproducibility of the collected data, immunity to the variability of the human body, ergonomics and methods of use. It is therefore necessary to foresee a theoretical but above all experimental study activity which acts as a bridge between the preliminary scientific evidences and a greater technological maturity that leads to possible industrial finalizations.


Development of epidermal technologies for the realization of bio-integrated radio interrogation membranes that can act as SECOND SKIN (with data acquisition capabilities) equipped with wireless sensors without batteries and remotely interrogated by fixed and wearable systems with local processing capacity (smartwatch smartphones).
The new technology will be useful for the acquisition of various types of biophysical quantities attributable to the skin interface such as temperature, pressure (sense of touch), perspiration, electrical potentials, but also of gestures that can reveal much of the state of health user and make a quantitative measurement of the interaction with the environment possible.
The collected data can therefore be used for personalized diagnostics, for the domestic care of single persons, for monitoring sleep quality, monitoring the health of people flows, the containment of epidemics, but also for the regeneration of lost sensory functions such as the sense of touch as a result of burns or other serious neuro-degenerative diseases. The project will make possible significant progress in the scientific and technological skills of the Research Group:

  1. Eco-compatible design and manufacturing techniques, low cost, of bio-integrated flexible electronics for application on the skin;
  2. Types of epidermal antennas with high immunity to individual variability;
  3. Algorithms for the conditioning and processing in real time of the collected biometric data;
  4. Protocols of characterization and experimental qualification of epidermal sensors;
  5. Reliability of the epidermal sensors in real operating conditions



The RFID measurement Station
Voyantic Tagformance

Software interface

Anechoic panels and antennas

Multilayered human body phantom




March 2019


maker faire



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5GItaly 2018

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eHealth: tra tecnologie e stili di vita                    Slides  
prof. G. Marrocco


Bio-Integrated Flexible and Stretchable Electronics for Skin Sensor Networks

Chicago (US) - May 2019


BSN Conference 2019


F. Camera and G. Marrocco, "Electromagnetic-based Correction of Bio-Integrated RFID Sensors for Reliable Skin Temperature Monitoring", IEEE Sensors, in press

Bio-integrated wireless sensors in the form of conformable plaster, based on the Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) communication, have been recently proposed for the battery-less measurement of the human skin temperature. However, the response of the Integrated Circuit (IC) transponder is sensitive to the strength of the interrogating power. Indeed, high power produces artifacts on the sampled temperature up to 2 °C when the mutual position between reader and sensors, as well as the emitted power, can not be carefully controlled. Hence, a reliable adoption of this technology in real cases is challenging and still in question. A combined macro-scale electromagnetic-thermal model is here introduced to predict and correct the above artifact so that the temperature measurement becomes insensitive to the RF power collected by the IC. The method is based on the new generation RFID ICs with on-chip temperature sensor that are also capable to give back the strength of the collected RF power. The model is validated in controlled conditions and then applied for different skin temperature measurements on human body. An average accuracy of 0.25 °C, compared with a reference calibrated thermocouple, was demonstrated in the considered tests.

C. Miozzi, F. Amato and G. Marrocco, "Performance and Durability of Thread Antennas as Stretchable Epidermal UHF RFID Tags", IEEE RFID Journal, June 2020

Epidermal sensors based on battery-less Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) aim at collecting biophysical parameters with a high level of comfort for the user. This paper investigates the performance and durability of epidermal RFID tags, equipped with a self-tuning RFID IC, that are based either on copper wires or conductive yarn. The tags are deployed onto an ultra-thin stretchable and transparent substrate to achieve comformability to body discontinuities. A statistical analysis on volunteers showed that, in the whole UHF band (860-960 MHz), reliable read ranges of 1 m are easily achieved while up to 2 m can be reached in some favorable configurations. Both tags withstand wear, mechanical stress due to the movements of the body, sweating, and water. In particular, the tag made of conductive yarn lasts for more than 20 days. This new family of epidermal tags are moreover suitable to low-cost and large-scale manufacturing through the widely available machines used for wire-laying, bending, and shaping.

G. Bianco, S. Amendola and G. Marrocco, "Near-field Constrained Design for Self-tuning UHF-RFID Antennas", IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, May 2020

Recently introduced self-tuning RFID tags are capable to dynamically modify the input impedance of the embedded microchip transponder in order to compensate possible impedance mismatch with the antenna, thus making the communication performance rather insensitive to the nearby environment. A general method for the design of this new class of tags is presented with the purpose to master the complex configuration, where the tag is placed at a close distance from the interrogating antenna and the free-space assumption is not valid. A two-port system is introduced and the networkoriented reformulation of self-tuning action permits to derive an optimization problem for the minimization of the interrogation power for a wide range of boundary conditions. The method is demonstrated, both numerically and experimentally, through the application of a Finger Augmentation Device aimed to achieve a smart interaction with touched objects.

F. Amato, C. Occhiuzzi and G. Marrocco, "Epidermal Backscattering Antennas in the 5G Framework: Performance and Perspectives", IEEE Journal of RFID, May 2020

Epidermal RFIDs, if integrated within the nextgeneration (5G) wireless architecture, would enable low-cost healthcare applications for remote monitoring of patients, realtime telesurgery, and augmented sensing abilities. This paper explores, through simulations and preliminary experiments, epidermal 5G-RFIDs operating both at microwave and mmWave frequencies. In particular, it identifies the maximum gains of epidermal antennas at their optimal sizes, the achievable read ranges of passive 5G-RFID links, and their possible data-rates. Moreover, it demonstrates the compliance with electromagnetic exposure regulations and explores the benefits of epidermal arrays. Loop transponders at microwave frequencies (3.6 GHz) could provide the same read distance (one meter) of their UHF counterparts while having a smaller footprint (17 x 17 mm2) and reaching a theoretical data-rate as high as 0.5 Gbps. At 28 GHz and 60 GHz, instead, arrays could be used to both achieve comparable performances and enable beamsteering.

C. Miozzi, G. Diotallevi, M. Cirelli, P. P. Valentini and G. Marrocco, "Radio-mechanical Characterization of Epidermal Antennas during Human Gestures", IEEE Sensors, January 2020

Recent developments in Materials and Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) technologies are currently boosting the development of new class of flexible and elastic epidermal devices for the wireless remote monitoring of biophysical parameters. As tightly bio-integrated with the skin, epidermal antennas are subjected to mechanical deformation during the natural movements and gestures of the human body. The experienced effect is a degradation of the communication performance of the RFID link. In this contribution, we evaluate the stiffness and the change of the radiation gain of on-skin UHF antennas in common gestures by a combined mechanical-electromagnetic model to provide a database and a modelling methodology to improve the design of deformation-tolerant skin antennas. The deformation of the skin is firstly quantified by using a contactless 3D scanner and then the communication impact is predicted by means of an electromagnetic analysis of stretched antennas for some relevant cases of thin-wire layouts. Preliminary numerical simulations and experimentations demonstrated that constraints over low stiffness and insensitivity of radiation gain could be not always compatible. An epidermal antenna may undergo up to 3-4 dB of gain degradation that converts to 30% reduction of the read distance for the strain orientation producing the minimum mechanical stiffness. The derived deformation database could be useful to improve the design of more robust epidermal antennas.

S. Nappi and G. Marrocco, "Space-Filling Electromagnetic Skins for the Wireless Monitoring of Surface Defects", IEEE Sensors, August 2019

Polymer-based objects (cable harness, gaskets, tires) are exposed, during their lifetime, to mechanical and chemical stress that often generates surface defects like crack and scratches. Early detection of signs of aging may enable a Predictive Maintenance to extend the life of the object and avoid severe failures. For this purpose, Space Filling Curves (SFC) are here proposed as an artificial electric skin, suitable to envelope a surface to wireless detect the presence of small aging signs by resorting to an electromagnetic backscattering platform. Size and resolution of the skin can be controlled by just two parameters and multiple skin cells can be arranged together to tessellate a large surface in order to even identify the position of the defect. By following a theoretical analysis of the sensor-oriented properties of SFCs, and in particular of the Gosper-Fukuda family, the feasibility of the idea is demonstrated by the way of preliminary experiments with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) IC, providing a 1-bit anti-tamper port.

C. Miozzi, S. Nappi, S. Amendola, C. Occhiuzzi and G. Marrocco, "A General-purpose Configurable RFID Epidermal Board with a Two-way Discrete Impedance Tuning", IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, February 2019

Current advances of the Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) technology can boost the emerging class of biointegrated skin devices exploiting low-power (even passive) wireless communication and sensing interfaces. This work describes a small-size (3cmx3cm) flexible UHF RFID board conceived for the rapid laboratory experimentation and suitable to multi-purpose monitoring of physical parameters (e.g. temperature and sweat) over the skin and/or over clothing layers and medical plasters. An engineered open-loop antenna is coupled with a two-way discrete (four states) tuning circuit to compensate the frequency shifts that occur in real applications due to the intrinsic variability of the human body. The capability of the tuning mechanism to down/up-shift the operating frequency and to restore the default state is validated by means of both numerical simulation and measurements over some volunteers in realistic conditions.


S. Amendola, V. Greco, G. M. Bianco and G. Marrocco, "Application of Radio-Finger Augmented Devices to Cognitive Neural remapping", RFID-TA 2019, Pisa (IT), September 25-27, 2019

Finger-Augmented Devices having wireless connectivity based on battery-less backscattering (RFID-FAD) are useful assistive tools for subjects suffering from Hypoesthesia. This work presents an optimized R-FAD system consisting of a conformal sensor-tag sized for the fingertip and a wristmounted module (antenna+reader) that powers the on-chip finger sensor, collect the data transmitted back and convert them into acoustic feedback. Beyond the use as a disability aid, the R-FAD system is here applied, for the first time, in the context of cognitive neuroscience, to investigate if the loss of physical perception of the warmth could affect also the abstract/mental representation of the temperature, as claimed by the grounded theories. Preliminary tests, involving both control healthy subjects and a deafferented patient, corroborate this theory and, above all, suggest that the training with the R-FAD system, providing a ’transduced’ thermal sensitivity, may play a role in the cognitive re-mapping of the thermal perception.

S. Nappi, L. Gargale, P. P. Valentini and G. Marrocco, "RF Detection of Micro-cracks in Orthopedic Implants by Conformal Space Filling Curves", RFID-TA 2019, Pisa (IT), September 25-27, 2019

Implanted prosthesis could be subjected to fractures due to defects and to aging. Conventional diagnostic tools involves X-Rays or, more commonly, the onset of the patient’s pain due to an irreversible failure. A non-invasive wireless monitoring system is here presented for the early detection of micro-cracks over metallic orthopedic implants. The proposed architecture involves a distributed electrode made of Space Filling Curves connected to the anti-tamper port of a UHF RFID transponder. The occurrence of an even small surface crack is detected in a binary form and transmitted remotely, outside the body following a standard RFID interrogation. The feasibility of the idea is supported by numerical analysis and experimentaloutcomes with a 3D printed and metallized hip prosthesis mock-up. Preliminary results demonstrate a detection distance up to 0.7m, fully compliant with fast and non-collaborative diagnosis in the emerging Personalized Healthcare.

F. Camera, C. Occhiuzzi, C. Miozzi, S. Nappi, A. Bozzo, P. Tomola, A. Bin and G. Marrocco, "Monitoring of temperature stress during firefighters training by means of RFID epidermal sensors", RFID-TA 2019, Pisa (IT), September 25-27, 2019

Monitoring body temperature is a fundamental health issue for workers that, like firefighters, are sometimes exposed to high thermal stress. Wireless epidermal sensors are a non-invasive tool to collect temperature data in a very efficient way. This paper describes an experimental study carried out during a Compartment Fire Behavior Training. We used wireless thermometers based on Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) technology to measure firefighters clothing layers temperatures. Such devices can be placed directly on the skin like a plaster and are compatible with the UHF RFID standard. Thanks to the simplicity of sensor activation and data download, we managed to obtain multiple data from 10 firefighters during their training. These collected data give an idea of the thermal load that the firefighters experience while performing their duties.

F. Amato, C. Miozzi, S. Nappi and G. Marrocco, "Self-Tuning UHF Epidermal Antennas", RFID-TA 2019, Pisa (IT), September 25-27, 2019

Epidermal sensors based on Radiofrequency Identification are suitable to be attached onto the skin like a thin and flexible plaster and allow collecting biophysical parameters with a high level of comfort for the user. When working in the UHF band (860-960 MHz), the on-skin antenna performance (impedance matching and the corresponding read distance) is strongly dependent on the region of the human body where it is attached and by the body mass of the user. The self-tuning UHF epidermal RFID tag, based on a multi-state RFID IC, is a placement-robust RFID skin device that can automatically and dynamically modify its internal impedance depending of the boundary condition seen by the antenna. The epidermal sensor, also capable to measure skin temperature, preserves a realized gain variation of 2:5 dB for applications in the same part of the body of some volunteers. It provides a read distance of more than 1 m in the whole worldwide RFID band (860 - 960 MHz), with 60% of probability, for any considered positions and users and up to 90% of probability in case of application on abdomen or arms.

G. Diotallevi, C. Miozzi, M. Cirelli, P. P. Valentini and G. Marrocco, "Radio-Mechanical Model of Epidermal Antenna Stretching during Human Gestures", FLEPS 2019, Glasgow, Scotland (UK), July 7-10, 2019

Recent developments in Materials and Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) technologies are currently stimulating the development of new class of flexible epidermal devices for the wireless remote monitoring of biophysical parameters. The natural movements and gestures of the human body will not only produce mechanical stretching of skin antennas but they could also affect their communication performance. In this contribution we evaluate the degradation of the radiation gain of on-skin UHF antennas in common gestures by a combined mechanicalelectromagnetic model. The deformation of the skin is firstly quantified by using a 3D scanner and hence the communication impact is evaluated with reference to a typical 867 MHz thin wire split-ring epidermal antenna. Preliminary numerical simulations and experimentations demonstrated that the behavior of the antenna is modified with a maximum 30% degradation of the read distance for the strain orientation producing the minimum mechanical stiffness.

S. Nappi, V. Mazzaracchio, L. Fiore, F. Arduini and G. Marrocco, "Flexible pH Sensor for Wireless Monitoring of the Human Skin from the Medimun Distances", FLEPS 2019, Glasgow, Scotland (UK), July 7-10, 2019

Sweat monitoring is an effective procedure to detect early signs or precursors of some psychophysical diseases. A compact wireless flexible on-skin pH sensor is here proposed for integration with Radiofrequency Identification in the UHF band. The peculiarity is its simplicity and minimal amount of required electronic components. The device comprises a printed multilayer pH sensor and an energy harvesting antenna optimized for application onto the human skin. Preliminary experiments demonstrated that the device is capable to capture a pH range compatible with physiologic data and to exchange data up to 1m without need of battery.

F. Amato, S. Amendola and G. Marrocco, "Upper-bound Performances of RFID Epidermal Sensor Networks at 5G Frequencies", BSN 2019, Chicago (USA), 19-22 May, 2019

5G will play a key role in developing high speed wearable and epidermal electronics for healthcare applications such as patient monitoring, tele-surgery, and augmented sensorial abilities (both for humans and robots). At the same time, developing a 5G-RFID system based on backscattering communication will help reducing the power consumption and lowering the electronic complexity. Nevertheless, the high path losses and the strong electromagnetic interactions of the skin might severely limit ranges and performances of epidermal RFIDs operating at 5G frequencies. In this paper, the effects of the human skin on the link budget of epidermal RFID dipoles at microwave and mmWave frequencies are investigated through numerical simulations. Results show that an epidermal RFID sensor tags can reach ranges comparable with UHF systems by using either a single dipole at 5.8 GHz or a 23-element array of dipoles at 60 GHz when using the currently available chip sensitivities (-15 dBm) and reader antenna gains (6 dBi). Smaller antenna sizes of a 5G RFID sensor will allow the integration of tags in new ubiquitous non-invasive epidermal and wearable electronics, while the high frequencies will enable tracking with mm- and micro-scale resolutions for medical applications (e.g.: micro-ablation or muscular and neural rehabilitation).

S. Nappi, P.P Valentini and G. Marrocco, "Conformal Space-Filling Electromagnetic Skins for the Wireless Monitoring of 3D Object Integrity", EUCAP 2019, Kracov, Polland

The widespread use of polymer-based objects such as pipes, cables, tiles, gaskets in a wide range of applications demands for large scale a regular monitoring of their health sta- tus in order to prevent potential failures during service. Indeed, the exposure of these objects to mechanical or chemical stressing agents may accelerate their aging process thus decreasing their natural lifetime. A non-invasive and early monitoring of these aging signs (such as surface defects) may enable a predictive maintenance in order to avoid, or at least to minimize, unexpected failures. This paper describes a wireless crack detection method based on space-filling curves working like an electromagnetic second- skin enveloping the object. The conformal sensor permits to remotely transmit the presence of small defects over the object by using Radio Frequency Identification antennas and microchip transponders provided with anti-tampering features. The pro- posed idea is corroborated by numerical modeling and by some experimentations with a plastic pipe joint coated by a three- cells sensing skin made by silver conductive paint that is suitable to enable a wireless robust crack detection system up to 1.5m distance.

G. M Bianco and G. Marrocco, "Fingertip Self-tuning RFID Antennas for the Discrimination of Dielectric Objects", EUCAP 2019, Kracov, Polland

Self-tuning RFID antennas are based on a new family of multi-state microchips capable of automatically adapting an internal reactive network in order to maximize the power harvested by the attached antenna when boundary conditions change. This concept can be applied to develop a radio-frequency fingertip-augmented device (R-FAD) to be used as dielectric- probe on a finger to discriminate different kinds materials and their discontinuities. When the finger, provided with a self-tuning epidermal tag, comes in touch with an object, the modification of the input impedance of the tag, related to the object’s material, can be retrieved by an interrogating reader placed on the wrist. Possible applications concern the aid to impaired people suffering from peripheral neuropathy or eyesight deficiency, but even the inclusion in robotic prosthesis. The modeling and design and characterisation of the epidermal self-tuning tag is here presented for the first time and the idea is corroborated by some experimental tests with a system prototype.

C. Miozzi, G. Marrocco, “An Epidermal Configurable Antenna System for the Monitoring of Biophysical Parameters,” 22th Riunione Nazionale di Elettromagnetismo (RiNEm 2018), Cagliari (IT), September 2018

Skin sensors based on Radiofrequency Identification enable non-invasive monitoring of human physiologic parameters. To speed up the experimentations of new sensing modalities and their possible applications, a general-purpose on- skin oriented board is here described. A 3 cm by 3 cm flexible Kapton layer hosts a miniaturized open-loop antenna tuneable in the worldwide UHF RFID band 860- 960 MHz, a microchip with internal ADC and pads for interconnecting external sensors and a battery for data-logging mode. When working in Battery Assisted Passive mode it can be read up to 1.5 m and hence the wearer can automatically upload the stored data in mobility. The device is preliminarily experimented in the measurement of the skin temperature and moisture on clothes.

S. Nappi, G. Marrocco, “Gosper Space-Filling Radiofrequency-Skin for the Detection and Identification of Surface Cracks,” 22th Riunione Nazionale di Elettromagnetismo (RiNEm 2018), Cagliari (IT), September 2018.

The aging of polymer-based objects (tires, cable harness, paints, gaskets) may appear as the formation of surface defects like cracks and scratches. An early detection of such signs may support the Predictive Maintenance in the Industry 4.0 paradigm of critical polymeric devices before the occurrence of a severe damage. Inkjet printed Space Filling Curves (SFC) are here proposed as an artificial electric skin, suitable to be integrated with an RFID tag, at the purpose to detect and remotely transmit the presence of small aging signs of a surface. Thanks to the particular properties of the Gosper SFC, the size and space resolution of the skin can be easily controlled by few parameters.

Books Chapters



Prof. MARROCCO at BSN 2019
Chicago (USA) - 3rd Best Paper

3rd prize as Best Paper

Body Sensor Network 2019, Chicago (USA)
F. Amato, S. Amendola, G. Marrocco,
"Upper-bound Performances of RFID Epidermal Sensor Networks at 5G Frequencies"

Carolina MIOZZI at RINEM 2018
Cagliari (IT) - CNIT Award

CNIT Award at  Riunione Nazionale di Elettromagnetismo
(RINEM), Cagliari, for best paper under 35
C. Miozzi, G. Marrocco,
"An Epidermal Configurable Antenna System for the Monitoring of Biophysical Parameters"