14 November 2014
Smart Watch That Can Monitor Health
A smart watch that can monitor health would be one of the most innovative technology in a long time.
Smart watches are already gather buzz as the next great innovative technology, their main function to be a cell phone to be worn on the wrist. But the really exciting potential for the devices, according to a recent piece in UK Wired, is as health monitors. Bioengineering researchers at the University of Michigan are developing sensors that can be incorporated into a smart watch that can detect the biomarkers of various diseases through the skin.
The sensors will be made of graphene, a new material similar to carbon nanotubes whose properties are still being understood. The sensors will react with the biomarkers in a process called heterodyne mixing. Depending on which biomarker, the device will be able to alert the wearer to various health issues.
For instance, acetone is the biomarker for changes in blood sugar, crucial for someone living with diabetes. Abnormal nitric oxide and oxygen levels, could indicate anemia, high blood pressure or lung disease. The device could also be configured for outside, environmental effects, such as chemical spills or various kinds of air pollution.
The idea of these sensors are not new. But the University of Michigan team have been able to shrink them down, using graphene, so that they can be incorporated in a smart watch.
The health implications of such a wearable device are profound. People with diabetes will be able to monitor their blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers and use test strips. Other people will be alerted to blood pressure spikes and other indications that might presage a heart attack or a stroke. Thus severe health problems would be detected before they become serous enough to become life threatening.
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