This Small Stick-On Stamp Can Collect Biometric Data Without the Bulky Equipment

October 5, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Medical technology is improving by decreasing in cost, invasiveness, and size. But a new blood pressure-measuring patch may blow everything else out of the water. Intended to replace blood pressure cuffs, the postage stamp-sized patch continuously tracks the patient’s central blood pressure.

This device not only has the potential to help users get more in tune with their health, but it could also give doctors much more detailed data about their patients without the need for an in-person visit.

Deeper Data About Ourselves

The lead researcher, Sheng Xu, and the rest of the team at the University of California’s San Diego campus are excited about their new MedTech application. It can be used to keep an eye on vital organs like the lungs, brain, and liver.

Made of silicon, the elastic device outputs ultrasonic waves that go through the skin and reflect off of the patient’s internal organs, tissue, and blood. The reflections are recorded and sent back to the sensor, which sends the data to a computer to analyze the blood pressure data.

While the patch has to be wired to the computer too, the group of researchers plan to eliminate that type of physical limitation as soon as possible. According to the MIT Technology Review, it’s the first wearable device that measures patient biometric data deeper than the surface of the skin.

A Better Alternative

In their Nature Biomedical Engineering published paper, the team reports that the stamp continuously and accurately tracks central blood pressure. It doesn’t matter where it’s placed on the body, although the team found that the neck was the most effective spot for a patch.

In the study, the researchers compared the patch to a non-invasive MedTech device called a tonometer, which puts a sensor for pressure on the patient’s skin. The two devices were found to be comparable. The current “gold standard” of measuring central blood pressure is quite invasive: it requires the doctor to insert a catheter with a sensor on it close to the heart. The researchers want to compare the catheter’s efficacy to the patch’s performance.

Xu says patients can’t walk around wearing a blood pressure cuff all of the time, and that this device offers a 24/7 monitor for patients with a history of rollercoaster blood pressure.

More Testing Needed

Mohan Thanikachalam is a cardiac surgeon at Tufts University in Boston. He thinks there is more value in cuffs that track peripheral blood pressure. He points to other research results, saying, “It could turn out that central blood pressure has more predictive value in terms of outcomes in the future, but as of now we don’t have that much data.”

But Xu says this patch could even be used to find small cracks in mechanical machinery or heavy equipment.

There is certainly a lot of potential with this non-invasive blood pressure tracker. Would you wear it on your body to see how your heart is faring? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,