Monitoring Health with Skin patch and Smartwear

With wearables and smart watches gaining popularity for their health monitoring, it's just a matter of time before we start seeing a lot more of Smartwear working in tandem with sensors on our bodies. 

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch that can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer’s levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol or caffeine. It is the first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body at the same time.

“This type of wearable would be very helpful for people with underlying medical conditions to monitor their own health on a regular basis,” said Lu Yin, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and co-first author of the study published Feb. 15 in Nature Biomedical Engineering. “It would also serve as a great tool for remote patient monitoring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are minimizing in-person visits to the clinic.”

Such a device could benefit individuals managing high blood pressure and diabetes—individuals who are also at high risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. It could also be used to detect the onset of sepsis, which is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure accompanied by a rapid rise in lactate level.

One soft skin patch that can do it all would also offer a convenient alternative for patients in intensive care units, including infants in the NICU, who need continuous monitoring of blood pressure and other vital signs. These procedures currently involve inserting catheters deep inside patients’ arteries and tethering patients to multiple hospital monitors.

“The novelty here is that we take completely different sensors and merge them together on a single small platform as small as a stamp,” said Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and co-corresponding author of the study. “We can collect so much information with this one wearable and do so in a non-invasive way, without causing discomfort or interruptions to daily activity.”

The new patch is a product of two pioneering efforts in the UC San Diego Center for Wearable Sensors, for which Wang serves as director. Wang’s lab has been developing wearables capable of monitoring multiple signals simultaneously—chemical, physical and electrophysiological—in the body. And in the lab of UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Sheng Xu, researchers have been developing soft, stretchy electronic skin patches that can monitor blood pressure deep inside the body. By joining forces, the researchers created the first flexible, stretchable wearable device that combines chemical sensing (glucose, lactate, alcohol and caffeine) with blood pressure monitoring.

“Each sensor provides a separate picture of a physical or chemical change. Integrating them all in one wearable patch allows us to stitch those different pictures together to get a more comprehensive overview of what’s going on in our bodies,” said Xu, who is also a co-corresponding author of the study.

You can read the complete article here. A journal paper, 'An epidermal patch for the simultaneous monitoring of haemodynamic and metabolic biomarkers' is available here. In the video embedded below, graduate students at the Center for Wearable Sensors at UC San Diego discuss their work on a new all-in-one health monitoring skin patch:

A much more detailed presentation on 'Skin-Interfaced Wearable Sweat Biosensors' by Wei Gao - Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, Division of Engineering & Applied Science, California Institute of Technology is embedded below.

I can see many different possibilities in which these sensors can work with the 6G communication devices either with a wearable of a smartwear dress. Wearables like smartwatches and fitness bands are easy to understand but smartwear would need to evolve to be able to handle these things.

The tweet from Vodafone UK 5G launch uses Teslasuit to communicate the rugby tackle at a far away distance. A similar approach can work with smartwear and other smartsuits to communicate sensor reading to other devices.

Happy to hear your thoughts.

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