Wearable sensors seek to reinvent medical testing


By 2015, the cost, invasiveness, and effort involved in conducting medical tests led to proposals for lightweight wearable sensors that could perform the same job. Several such efforts focus on making these sensors fashionably acceptable by making them out of skinlike substances with electronics embedded in them. A team at the University of Illinois is working on biostamps, which can be applied to the skin, include flexible circuits, and can be wirelessly powered. At the University of Tokyo, a group is working on developing electronic skin made of organic semiconductors and carbon nanotubes. At Stanford, another group is working on an electronic film as sensitive as human skin. Finally, at the University of California, San Diego, a team is developing inks that could be used to draw sensors directly on skin. These devices transfer their data via near field communications, and are charged the same way, typically using smartphones. Designing them to work as biosensors requires rethinking how these tests are conducted. 

While these ideas were entering clinical tests in 2015, by 2025 researchers hope that these types of devices can be used to provide secure ID, enable nurses to quickly scan hospital patients' condition without disturbing them, and monitor healthy humans for developing conditions.


Writer: Tekla S. Perry
Publication: IEEE Spectrum
Publication date: 2015-05-29

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