Electronic Skin Patch To Monitor Heart Health

Skin patches could provide on-the-go medical care.
(Source: newswise.com)
A new wearable medical device can quickly alert a person if they are having cardiovascular trouble or if it's simply time to put on some skin moisturizer. The small device, approximately five centimeters square, can be placed directly on the skin and worn 24/7 for around-the-clock health monitoring. The wireless technology uses thousands of tiny liquid crystals on a flexible substrate to sense heat. When the device turns colour, the wearer knows something is awry.

The technology, published in Nature Communications, uses the transient temperature change at the skin's surface to determine blood flow rate, which is of direct relevance to cardiovascular health, and skin hydration levels. When skin is dehydrated, the thermal conductivity property changes.

The device is an array of up to 3,600 liquid crystals, each half a millimeter square, laid out on a thin, soft and stretchable substrate. When a crystal senses temperature, it changes color, and the dense array provides a snapshot of how the temperature is distributed across the area of the device. An algorithm translates the temperature data into an accurate health report in less than 30 seconds.

With its 3,600 liquid crystals, the photonic device has 3,600 temperature points, providing sub-millimeter spatial resolution that is comparable to the infrared technology currently used in hospitals. The infrared technology, however, is expensive and limited to clinical and laboratory settings, while the new device offers low cost and portability. The device also has a wireless heating system that can be powered by electromagnetic waves present in the air. The heating system is used to determine the thermal properties of the skin.
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