The IDTechEx conference was held in Santa Clara, CA November 18 and 19, 2015, covering a wide range of topics including wearable devices and related technology such as sensors, printed electronics, and energy harvesting. This is one of the many items of interest from that conference.
One of the keys to wearable Health Tech devices is the availability of accurate and affordable sensors that can be applied to a wide range of uses, reporting important data about an individual’s health and activity. BeBop Sensors is a company that makes fabric sensors that can detect pressure and motion.
At the IDTechEx conference, I saw their shoe insole sensors (pictured above) that have 20 separate sensor regions. Working with health and medical researchers, BeBop engineers discovered that this was actually too much granularity for the measurements, and the sensors provided more useful information when aggregated into a smaller number of groups. The data from the insoles can be used for everything from measuring a subject’s weight to analyzing their walking gait. This information can be helpful in diagnosing problems and helping with physical therapy to treat patients after stroke or injury.
The BeBop sensors are flexible and waterproof, and can be made as small as 2 mm square or as large as a bed sheet. A bed-sized sensor could be helpful in monitoring hospital patients to make sure that they do not spend too much time in a certain position so that they avoid bedsores. The sensors can also be built into clothing, where they can be used to help workers avoid injury by sensing motions that could put them at risk. They also can be incorporated into safety harnesses to make sure that the user has adjusted it correctly.