The next generation of smart watches? Scientists make a wireless & # 39; electronic adhesive plaster & # 39; that can detect the heartbeat, breathing and movement of people through the skin
- The sticker looks like a plaster and moves seamlessly with the skin
- It is designed to be more comfortable than current portable technologies
- But it still needs a device attached to the body to collect the data
- It is expected to be used first in people with sleep or heart conditions
Scientists have created a flexible electronic sticker that wirelessly monitors pulse, respiration and muscle activity.
They hope it can be used first to monitor patients with cardiac or sleep disorders who should be monitored continuously.
The soft and flexible sticker is attached to the wrist like a plaster and has small sensors on the inside to measure bodily functions.
However, the user still has to wear a device attached to his clothing to access the data on a smartphone.
Stanford University is working on upgrading the sticker to feel sweat and temperature.
Scientists have created a flexible electronic sticker that wirelessly monitors your wrist, breathing and muscle activity. It is pictured attacked on the wrist. It sends information to a recipient who is attached to clothing before the information is sent to your smartphone
Inside the sticker, antennas are made with metal ink that absorbs changes in the body. Pictured, the sticker in a different design, published in the journal Nature Electronics
Zhenan Bao, a chemical engineer on the team, said: “We think it will someday be possible to create a whole-body skin sensor array to collect physiological data without disturbing a person's normal behavior. & # 39;
Wearable technology is a growing market because companies are trying to go beyond the possibilities of a new tracker.
HOW DOES PORTABLE TECH WORK?
Fitness trackers such as Fitbits or smart watches follow the heartbeat with the help of a technique called photo poplethy.
The tracker sends green light through the skin that is partially absorbed by arteries.
As you train, these arteries expand as blood flow increases – meaning more green light is absorbed rather than reflected back to the tracker.
The tracker estimates your heart rate by seeing how much light is reflected back.
The amount of light that goes back through the skin to the tracker can be influenced by the amount of melanin in the skin and any tattoos.
One of the most important measuring instruments of portable sleep monitors is called actigraphy, which has been used for decades in medical sleep tests.
Actigraphy records movement through a measuring device called an accelerometer.
The idea is that a certain amount of movement is registered as & # 39; awake & # 39; and periods of being still corresponds to & # 39; being asleep & # 39 ;.
Sleep trackers with a heart rate tracking function can measure your variations in heart rate to assess sleep quality and other parameters.
Trackers that measure the body's core temperature, for example, use this information to predict stress levels and fertility.
Currently, most top fitness trackers – such as the Fitbit or Apple Watch – follow movement and heart rate and some temperature while wearing them as a watch.
The researchers at Stanford University wanted to create something that can do these things without being so bulky and uncomfortable.
They have been working on this unique system called BodyNet for three years and this month describe it in the journal Nature Electronics.
Postdoctoral scientists Simiao Niu and Naoji Matsuhisa led the team, including Professor Bao.
With metallic ink, researchers printed antennas and sensors on a stretchable sticker.
As the skin moves, the electrical current in the metal ink changes and the vital functions of the person are measured.
The information is transmitted wirelessly to a receiver that is attached to a person's clothing.
The receiver then sends the information to a smartphone or watch via Bluetooth.
The authors wrote: & # 39; The platform can continuously analyze critical human signals (pulse, respiration and physical activity) and may therefore be used for real-time physiological and clinical examinations in a next-generation personal health monitoring system. & # 39;
The team has developed a type of RFID – radio frequency identification – the same technology that uses electronic signals to open a hotel room with a card instead of a key.
So far, the technology has only been tested on one person.
The team attached sensors to the pulse and abdomen of one test subject to monitor every heartbeat and breath.
They also stuck stickers on the person's elbows and knees to track muscle activation.
Although the sticker is barely noticeable, the receiver is still running on batteries and work is needed to make it less awkward, the team said.
To create something that gym visitors can use, the team said they needed to make the recipient even more durable and smaller – and they plan to weave it into clothing.
The researchers did not indicate whether you would remove the sticker for washing or how often you should replace it or not at all.
WHY FITNESS TRACKERS AND SMART WATCHES MAY BE INACCURATE
There are two ways in which a fitness watch can measure the distance that a person has walked, walked or jogged.
Some step-trackers do not have a built-in GPS – so they calculate the distance traveled based on the number of steps taken.
This is based on the number of steps multiplied by the average step length – which can affect accuracy.
Other watches use GPS models or connect to your smartphone to use GPS.
GPS models are more accurate – but which ones? the results showed that some overestimated the overrated distance by up to 20 percent.
How was the accuracy measured?
Tests often include running participants on a treadmill at 4.8 km (3 miles) and hour for 10 minutes and running for 10 minutes at 9.0-10 km (5.6 – 6.2 miles) per hour Which tests?
They also undergo a number of daily tasks, such as loading and unloading the dishwasher and shopping.
To test the calories burned, testers wore a face mask that was linked to a gas analysis system.
This measured oxygen intake and carbon dioxide production for each breath, which means that calories were measured as accurately as possible.
Tracker results were then compared with gas analysis data to find the most accurate devices.
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