When pressure is put on the device, the pyramids deform slightly, changing the size of the gap between the two halves of the device. This change in separation causes a measurable change in the electromagnetic field and the current flow in the device.
The more pressure placed on the monitor, the more the pyramids deform and the larger the change in the electromagnetic field. Using many of these sensors on a prosthetic limb could act like an electronic skin, creating an artificial sense of touch.
When the sensor is placed on someone's wrist using an adhesive bandage, the sensor can measure that person's pulse wave as it reverberates through the body.
The device is so sensitive that it can detect more than just the two peaks of a pulse wave. When engineers looked at the wave drawn by their device, they noticed small bumps in the tail of the pulse wave invisible to conventional sensors. Bao said she believes these fluctuations could potentially be used for more detailed diagnostics in the future.
Blood pressure and babies
Doctors already use similar, albeit much bulkier, sensors to keep track of a patient's heart health during surgery or when taking a new medication. But in the future Bao's device could help keep track of another vital sign.
"In theory, this kind of sensor can be used to measure blood pressure," said Schwartz. "Once you have it calibrated, you can use the signal of your pulse to calculate your blood pressure."
This non-invasive method of monitoring heart health could replace devices inserted directly into an artery, called intravascular catheters. These catheters create a high risk of infection, making them impractical for newborns and high-risk patients. Thus, an external monitor like Bao's could provide doctors a safer way to gather infor
|Contact: Bjorn Carey|