The Health Tech world is constantly searching for a better sensor platform. Some of the important characteristics include wireless connectivity, flexibility, and multiple sensors. Trying to incorporate rigid components such as integrated circuit chips and batteries are just some of the challenges involved in finding a good answer.
Researchers at the Daegu Gyeonbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in Korea and Northwestern University have developed an interesting approach. They have connected rigid components in a three-dimensional silicone pad – about 2 inches in diameter – that can be attached directly to a subject’s skin. The “special sauce” is their solution to making the device flexible and stretchable. They use tiny coils of gold wire for the interconnects between the rigid components. These wires can curl up or flatten out as needed to expand or contract. The team also relies on wireless technology, not only for exchanging sensor data with a smartphone app, but also to provide power for the system thus eliminating the need for batteries. The device can measure heart beats, motion, respiration, and other biometric data.
Clearly, this technology demonstration could benefit from further miniaturization and integration, but it points in an interesting direction that could result in thin and flexible patches that could be worn for extended periods of time, gathering useful data about individuals that can be used to diagnose conditions and monitor health in general.