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Wearable Sensors: Secret of Precision Health Monitoring

Enterprise Technology Review | Friday, July 24, 2020

Out ThisWearable sensors cover different parameters for monitoring human health status, enabling real-time treatment alerts. 

FREMONT, CA: In recent years, the applications of wearables have grown rapidly among the generation. Advanced signaling processes, intelligent analysis, and the power of smart computing leverage numerous benefits of wearable sensors to humans in the medical industry. With the potential of high-quality data processing, information fusion, and accurate decision-making, wearable sensors continue to explore new innovative treatment solutions. Wearable sensors help the medical professionals to monitor vital signs of the patient’s health condition at the earliest, which also help them to treat more effectively. The technology offers remote monitoring facilities, including instant sensing and accurate data collection, real-time communication for treatment, and analysis clinically relevant information regardless of the physical location.   

 Optical Sensors

The hybrid combination of organic bio-integration with optical measurement system provides many opportunities to capture accurate information at a broader level for medical benefits. The optical sensors are mostly integrated to the users’ electronic wearables, with attractive features and options. The technique collects information, such as skin reaction or back-reflection on light exposure. The wearable optical sensors can capture heart rates, its variability, and even oxygenation. Its low power computational capabilities for data analytics add extra parameters like measuring blood flow rates, bilirubin concentrations, pulse pressure wave velocities, and more biological infrastructural data for the health status. The sensor effectively collects information about the oxygenation states of tissues and underlaying organs, which can measure assessments of cardiovascular, myocardial, and tissue health. The scattering and fluorescence properties on the skin can be used to extract information related to tissues like malignant or premalignant.

 Chemical Sensors

Wearable chemical sensors allow real-time monitoring on the wearer’s health by measuring the performance and stress at the molecular level. It enables direct chemical analyses for high standard blood and urine tests and addresses the challenges to understand fundamentals of body-to-signal transduction. The advanced technology shows the potential to couple with some of the bio-fluids, such as chemical-to-electrical or chemical-to-optical signal transduction. The possibility to couple with the bio-fluids can leverage the advantages of ultra-low-cost and great simplicity of the detections and study the conventional bio-fluid analyses.  Chemical-to-electrical or electrochemical wearable sensors require no action from the user side to observe any data and automatically start working with the instant contact of bio-fluid. Empowered by the electricity and chemistry, the technology’s electrochemical reaction occurs at the electrode/solution interface. The technique uses the sweat, saliva, and tears for non-invasive real-time electrochemical monitoring, as these bio-fluids contain multiple physiologically relevant chemical constituents. 

 Electrical SensorSensor Technology

The wearable electrical sensors measure the changes in electrical resistance of skin in capacitive or conductively coupled charge at its surface. The sensors with optimized dry-electrode interfaces minimize air gaps between the electrodes and the skin, which avoids the artifacts associated with the relative motions between the electrodes and the skins. The wearable electrical sensors allow monitoring of the hydration level and significantly analyzing various medications levels such as vitamins, glucose, iron, and others. The sensors’ optimized designs enable measurements of bio-potentials with clinically relevant quality. These consist of soft silicone matrices and electrically conductive dopants, which allows some degree of transepidermal water loss and minimal thermal load. The electrical measurement includes EGGs, ECGs, and EMGs, which provide clear information on depolarization of the right and left ventricles of the heart, high-quality signals to the noise ratios and alpha rhythms. It not only enables the electrophysiological sensing but also records the motion with triaxial accelerometer and temperature measurement with the thermal sensor.

 Mechanical sensor

The wearable mechanical sensors offer high stretchability and flexibility, low hysteresis, and high sensitivity. These detect the quantify motions such as bending of a finger, elbow, or knee and levels the strain pressure and sensitivity of the body part. It conclusively demonstrates the fractured area and helps the medical professionals to recommend exercise regime and manage the medicine doses accordingly. Wearable mechanical sensors are used for various human pressure sensing interfaces, which also includes electronic skin mimicking tactile sensation, body pressure mapping, and joint bending detection.

The implementation of nanostructures and polymeric conductors help to modify sensing structures and interfaces to increase the wearable sensitivity. It also uses the iontronic interface sensing mechanism to improve the sensitivity and signals to noise ratio. The interface can detect pressure changes in the body, such as radial arterial pulse waveform measurement, even in a high capacitive noise environment. Wearable mechanical sensors provide advantages including skin-mounted sensors for tactile sensation, finger bending motion detection, measuring arterial pulse pressure waveform, detecting body movement, and biomechanics characterization. These are highly sensitive and offer a real-time response for vibration and dynamic pressure detection.

Effective health monitoring and measurements, including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and muscle activity, wearable sensors provide robust indicators of health status and diagnostic value. Smart wearable sensors have eliminated the need for a hospital setting for many diagnostic methods with the possibility of accurate, continuous, and real-time monitoring signals. The novel sensors contribute to new medical vulnerabilities and encourage proactive medical treatment.

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