April 7, 2014 – Researchers at Northwestern University have created a stick-on patch that when applied on a skin surface can track vital medical data normally requiring equipment that costs thousands of dollars. The patch can monitor heart rate and rhythm replacing an EKG. It can be used in place of an EEG, recording electrical activity in the brain.
No bigger than a band-aid this wireless patch can transmit to a smartphone app for continuous monitoring. Other uses include stress tests, sleep studies, monitoring newborn vital signs, fitness tracking, early detection of diseases like Parkinson’s, just to name a few.
The patch is stretchable and contains off-the-shelf microcircuitry. The chip technology is suspended in a thin elastic fluid-filled envelope. Stretchable wires connect the electronic components which include a radio transmitter, power inductors and an array of sensors.
The device is designed to be worn continuously without interfering with the wearer’s daily activities. According to Professor John A. Rogers, one of the team that developed it “It is as soft as human skin and can move with your body, but at the same time it has many different monitoring functions…..and can send high-quality data about the human body to a computer, in real time.”
Ultimately this wearable device could be produced cheaply so that anyone could incorporate it into his or her personal wellness management to catch early onset of a health condition that could be nipped in the bud because of early detection.