Wearable device monitors heart health

1 min read

A wearable device designed to monitor heart health has been created by a team from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The skin-like patch, which measures just 5mm2, works by detecting changes in a person's blood flow rate. Around 3,600 liquid crystals, each measuring around 0.5mm2 lay atop a stretchable substrate. When worn, these crystals serve as temperature points, monitoring temperature changes on the skin's surface. By tracking these changes in temperature, the device can identify the wearer's blood flow rate, which is indicative of cardiovascular health, while also monitoring skin hydration. When a temperature change is detected, the patch changes colour to alert the user that something is amiss. An algorithm then turns the temperature data into decipherable health information. The whole process takes around 30 seconds. Electromagnetic waves in the air power the device's wireless heating system, which is used to gauge the thermal properties of the skin. The researchers claim the spatial resolution of the device is comparable to that of infrared technology. "These results provide the first examples of 'epidermal' photonic sensors," said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois. "This technology significantly expands the range of functionality in skin-mounted devices beyond that possible with electronics alone."