Technology 3 min read

Researchers Develop Soft Wearable Health Monitor For Children

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a wireless wearable health monitor that uses stretchable electronics. Aside from offering a comfortable health monitoring in adults, the wearable tech is ideal for babies and small children too.

The team designed the monitor to collect and broadcast vital data to a recording device – a smartphone, tablet, or computer – that’s as far as 15 meters away. For example, it could record the respiratory rate, heart rate, as well as motion activity. The device can also serve as an electrocardiogram.

Unlike the conventional adhesive sensors with conductive gels, the soft wearable health monitor does not cause skin injuries or allergic reactions.

That’s because the engineers mounted the electronics on a stretchable substrate. They then connected it to gold, skin-like electrodes through stretchable printed connectors.

Since the device conforms to the skin, users won’t experience signal issues that come with using a metal-gel electrode across the skin. Whether walking, running, or climbing stairs, the device will always obtain accurate signals.

Speaking on the device, assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Woo-Hong Yeo, said:

“When you put a conventional electrode on the chest, movement from sitting up or walking creates motion artifacts that are challenging to separate from the signals you want to measure. Because our device is soft and conformal, it moves with the skin and provides information that cannot be seen with the motion artifacts of conventional sensors.”

Using Stretchable Electronics to Create Soft Wearables

Wearable Health Monitor
Image Credit: John Toon, Georgia Tech

The device features an embedded three gold electrodes in a film containing other electronic processing equipment.

Aside from the chips, all the parts used to create the device are flexible. Even the chips are on a strain-isolated soft substratum rather than the traditional plastic circuit board. Then, there’s a small rechargeable battery to power the three inches health monitor.

According to the researchers, the membranes are waterproof and can be worn in the shower. Also, all the electronics are recyclable.

A Soft Wearable Health Monitor Device For Children

Due to the need for ambulatory monitoring in children, the engineers are focussing primarily on pediatric applications.

It could provide continuous data that would not only improve children’s assessment but also help clinicians identify trends on time. By effect, health professionals could intervene before a condition progresses.

In a statement, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Dr. Kevin Maher, said:

“The generation of continuous data from the respiratory and cardiovascular systems could allow for the application of advanced diagnostics to detect changes in clinical status, response to therapies, and implementation of early intervention. A device to follow every breath a child takes could allow for early recognition and intervention before a more severe presentation of a disease.”

Right now, Yeo is focusing on reducing the device’s size and adding features to measure other parameters. These include blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen.

The engineer hopes that the device would ultimately make its way to children’s hospitals across the country.

” It will be a dream come true for me to see something we have developed be helpful to someone who is suffering,” he said. “We all want to see developments in science and engineering translated into improved patient care.”

Read More: Meet Reon Pocket, Sony’s Wearable Air Conditioner

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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