Forget wristbands. Try wearable health monitors instead | July 31, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 31 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 31 | p. 11 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 31, 2017

Forget wristbands. Try wearable health monitors instead

3-D printed device uses an infrared sensor to make measurements from the eardrum, also acts as a hearing aid
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: 3-D printing, sensors, health monitors, body temperature
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A 3-D printed device that’s worn on the ear measures core body temperature. Inclusion of an actuator and a microphone allows the device to also act as a hearing aid. Bluetooth enables the device to communicate with a smartphone.
Credit: ACS Sens.
Photo of a device for measuring body temperature worn over a person’s ear.
 
A 3-D printed device that’s worn on the ear measures core body temperature. Inclusion of an actuator and a microphone allows the device to also act as a hearing aid. Bluetooth enables the device to communicate with a smartphone.
Credit: ACS Sens.

Even if you don’t wear a Fitbit yourself, you probably know someone who does. Most wearable health monitors of that ilk are designed to be worn as a patch, wristband, or headband. But some health indicators could benefit from being measured in other ways. Take, for example, body temperature. Measurements of body temperature through the skin can be skewed by environmental conditions. Other, more accurate measurement methods are invasive and not suitable for wearable devices. A team led by Ali Javey of the University of California, Berkeley, has now designed a device that can be worn over the ear like a headphone and uses an infrared sensor that fits in the ear to monitor core body temperature from the eardrum in real time (ACS Sens. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.7b00247). The researchers used the device to monitor changes in core body temperature of a person riding an exercise bike. The device also has an integrated microphone and actuator, so it can function as a bone conduction hearing aid. Other sensors for real-time monitoring of heart rate, blood oxygenation, or brain electrical activity should be able to be incorporated in the same device, Javey and coworkers say.

 
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