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Wearable Sensors for At-Home Patient Monitoring
Researchers have developed a lightweight, flexible device that conforms to a person's body.
To minimize the amount of energy consumed, Jonathan Reeder, a University of Texas at Dallas researcher, developed a way to optimize the creation of the dielectric layer, which dictates the voltage at which each transistor activates. This approach opens new doors for applications in biomedical devices that require minimal voltage.
"By making sensors or stimulators that are essentially imperceptible to the body, we hope we can provide a fabrication technique for devices for treating disorders and diseases, and monitoring health in ways that have previously not been possible," Reeder says. "This would be accomplished through the chronic monitoring of body
signals, such as blood pressure, body temperature, glucose levels and neural activity, and would provide diagnostic information that could be used for treatments. Treatments could potentially be delivered through a similar type of ultra-thin, ultra-flexible device, such as a neural stimulator."
The prototype sensors require wiring, because the first stage of the research focused on creating high-performance electronics that can interface with delicate tissue. "As flexible biomedical device technology progresses, it will be necessary to create complete devices that bring together multiple technologies—sensors with wireless communication and power delivery—in a robust but flexible package," Reeder says. "Other research groups have shown that it's possible to wirelessly transfer bio-signals from the skin to a computer."
The researchers have demonstrated temperature, tactile and pressure sensing. They plan to expand the sensing capabilities toward complex body signals, which could include the brain and heart, as well as monitoring pH and chemical levels. "These devices are exciting for applications in medicine for collecting body signals or applying stimulation to biological tissue, which is soft and dynamic," Reeder says.
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