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article imageNew skin patch monitors heart health

By Tim Sandle     Sep 25, 2014 in Health
A new medical device has been developed. This “skin patch” is able to alert the wearer if they are having heart trouble.
The new device is small, around five centimeters square. It is designed to be placed directly on the skin and it can be worn twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.
For its functionality, the device uses thousands of tiny liquid crystals (around 3,600), that re held on a flexible substrate. The crystals, termed “epidermal photonic sensors”, sense changes to heat from the skin. Each crystal thereby acts as an individual temperature monitor. On this basis the device monitors the transient temperature change at the skin's surface to determine blood flow rate. This signal is of relevance to cardiovascular health. Changes as small as 0.2 degrees Centigrade
The device makes use of wireless technology and when it changes color, the wearer has an idea that something could be happening, such as cardiovascular issue. Another advantage of the device is that it is self-charging, making use of electromagnetic waves present in the airstream.
Beyond monitoring for heart issues, the researchers also hope that cosmetics companies will be interested, due to the ability of the device to measure skin dryness. The device could, for example, signal to the wearer that it is time to apply skin lotion.
The device was developed at Northwestern University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper headed “Epidermal photonic devices for quantitative imaging of temperature and thermal transport characteristics of the skin”.
More about skin patch, Heart, Cardiac arrest
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