At the American Chemical Society’s annual conference in San Diego this week, Professor John Rogers of Illinois University spoke about his new invention, a clever electronic patch that could revolutionise the way we monitor health and spot all kinds of problems before they arise.
The small electronic patches, which have been likened to temporary tattoos as apposed to the standard bulky monitoring devices we’re used to seeing, are only the thickness of a human hair, which means they can be worn all of the time without any problems or irritation, making them much more valuable in the long run. After all, what’s the point of a monitoring device that you barely wear because it annoys the hell out of you? However, despite their teeny tiny size, they still contain all of the important tech to keep an eye on you, including a small microchip like the kind you’d find in a mobile phone, which is designed to be flexible and comfortable against the skin.
The patches are designed to track, monitor and save all kinds of data about heart rate, fluctuations in temperature, muscle contractions, swelling, dehydration and all other kinds of vital signs that could point to a multitude of complications and problems. As you’d expect, all of the data can then be sent through to a computer or mobile phone, as a way to keep the information in one place and give easy access to health professionals, as well as friends and family.
The patches would last up to 10 days and they’re resistant to soap, water and sweat, they apparently just comes off as your skin exfoliates, kind of like you’re a reptile. Nice.
The implications for this kind of accurate and easy-to-use technology are huge. The patches could obviously save both the medical industry and individuals a lot of time and money. For instance, if you’re being constantly monitored by a device, you could get rid of your regular GP appointments, eradicate lengthy waiting times for tests and avoid being rigged up to bulky equipment for long periods of time.
Although there are similar devices out there, these specific electronic patches have been in development for some time. According to The Daily Mail, Rogers has recently launched a company to bring the patches to the wider market later in the year and although they’ll probably first only be used by hospitals and GPs, he hopes to bring them to shops for anyone to buy at a fairly affordable price. Rogers said:
“The near term opportunities will be for people with conditions of the heart, or conditions such as diabetes, on a preventative basis as they need a lot of monitoring […] But the broader and bigger area of application is health and wellness monitoring for individuals in good health, to pick up early signs of disease.”
By Becca Caddy.