A ladybug-sized sensor monitors heart and lung health in real-time. The device, developed by engineers at the University of Georgia, can be worn directly on clothing, according to a study published in the journal Digital Medicine.
The new sensor partially imitates the functions of the device for an electrocardiogram – it uses electrodes that are attached to the body on patches to monitor the condition of the heart: in particular, its rhythm, blood flow, and other key indicators of organ health.
The sensor consists of two very thin layers of silicon located at a distance of 270 nanometers from each other – this is a distance equal to 0.005 of the width of a human hair. These silicon layers act as electrodes that carry a slight voltage, which goes into an active state in response to various sounds and vibrations from the wearer’s body.
According to the researchers, the device is able to separate useful sounds (for example, heart rate, respiratory rate and the presence or absence of wheezing) from ambient noise and convert them into data sets that will allow the user to learn about their health in real-time.
The sensor is also able to collect data on the physical activity of users – for example, the number of kilometers traveled by them per day – and compare them with data obtained from the heart and lungs to create an overall picture of the user’s health.
In the future, the device can be used to identify problems with the functioning of the heart valve, as well as lung cancer – due to the characteristic weak crackling sound from the lungs, the authors of the study note.