Wearable multi-device sensor promises 'annual physical in a patch'

September 06, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Wearable multi-device sensor promises 'annual physical in a patch'
Scientists at GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) have announced that they are developing a wearable multi-device sensor patch that that can measure similar types of health parameters doctors analyze for a patient's annual physical.

The disposable band-aid like patch, say the researchers, measures sweat, interstitial fluids, and other key vitals. The patch is being developed in partnership with flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing consortium NextFlex (San Jose, CA) and Binghamton University and builds upon recent successful field trials with GE's sweat sensor patch, which measures hydration levels.

"Our new wearable multi-device sensor patch will redefine the meaning of a doctor 'patching you up,'" says Azar Alizadeh, Principal Scientist at GE Research and project leader of the new wearable sensing platform. "In the future, a doctor could capture all your vitals, key biochemical markers and other important health indicators in a single patch. Your annual checkout could turn into a daily or weekly one, which allows doctors and patients to more closely monitor their health."

"We expect to have a prototype of a new wearable patch ready for testing later this fall that can measure heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and other vitals," says Alizadeh. "Separately, we also have begun work on an interstitial fluid patch to examine the body's bio-chemistry. This would check many of the boxes doctors cover when conducting an annual physical on patients."

Examining interstitial fluids, say the researchers, would allow for analysis of cortisol, lactate, and other substances doctors commonly look at to assess a patient's health. The current research builds on the previously developed sweat sensor patch, which is enabled by advancements in microfluidic design for sweat transport, next-generation sensor materials, and through novel integration concepts for reliable connections between flexible and electronic components of a system.

As an individual moves and begins to perspire, the sensor embedded in the sweat sensor patch monitors the potassium and sodium excreted in sweat - which increase and decrease with time and activity - and transmits this information wirelessly to a mobile device or computer. A field test of the device took place in March in Colorado Springs through a collaboration with the


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