New healthcare technologies are now enabling patients to take charge of their health better, and support doctors in their day-to-day duties.

From stethoscopes to tattoos, here are several wearable technologies that doctors may soon be able to prescribe to their patients.

1. Stethoscope for patients with cardiovascular disease


A heart monitoring device that fits into the palm of your hand, Smart StethoScope (S3) was invented by three students from Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, which aims to allow patients with cardiovascular disease to monitor their hearts for any abnormal sounds – at home.

This heart monitor was among the inventions presented during Microsoft’s Imagine Cup World Finals in July.

"What doctors ultimately want is a device that can collect data on heart sounds remotely," explained one of the inventors, cyber security and forensics student Sean Wong.

"But the problem has been that the patient needs to have the technical expertise to use such devices – such as knowing the exact location to put the device, in order to detect abnormal sounds."

Patients are only required to wear the device for approximately five minutes a day to record their heart data. The inventors hope that the device will be able to catch heart conditions that may not have been detected during medical appointments.

They are looking to first market the S3 to medical facilities so that doctors will be able to prescribe it to patients with cardiovascular problems.

2. Ear device to track body temperature fluctuations


The 3D Body temperature sensor can track core body temperature and health issues. Photo credit: American Chemical Society
The 3D Body temperature sensor can track core body temperature and health issues. Photo credit: American Chemical Society

Researchers have come up with a 3D printed sensor capable of detecting the core temperature of a human body, including its fluctuations. This wearable technology works with the help of integrated data processing circuits, a wireless module and an infrared sensor to measure core body temperature.

There is a Bluetooth module transmitter in the device that allows it to send temperature readings to a smartphone app. This is one of the few trackers that can detect a person’s core body temperature readings and provide a real-time measure of health.

Like other accurate thermometers, this 3D printed sensor works via the person’s ear to detect temperature fluctuations, which will then indicate if the person is suffering from any health condition. The rise and fall of a body temperature might be a sign of insomnia, fatigue, depression and metabolic function.

3. Temporary tattoo that senses vital signs


This light and thin wearable temporary tattoo sensor can monitor electrical muscle activity and body temperature. Photo credit: Takao Someya/University of Tokyo
This light and thin wearable temporary tattoo sensor can monitor electrical muscle activity and body temperature. Photo credit: Takao Someya/University of Tokyo

Scientists in Japan have managed to come up with a wearable sensor that can monitor vital signals without inflaming or irritating the skin. This ultrathin, lightweight, breathable sensor – which looks and feels like a henna tattoo – is made from nanoscale mesh that allows air to be let in through tiny gaps.

Compared to other devices that can monitor electrical muscle activity and body temperature – this wearable technology doesn’t cause sweating or itchiness; hence, making it suitable for long-term use unless it gets wet. In terms of precision, its readings are also more accurate because it is not made of polyester or rubber sheets.

Speaking on their latest technology achievement, Takao Someya, one of the scientists involved in this invention remarked, “we succeeded in completely removing the discomfort of wear. People cannot even feel the existence of our devices on their skin.”

The wearable temporary tattoo sensor can detect touch, temperature and pressure. It can also read the electrical activity of muscles – just like any other gel electrodes.

The scientists hope that this sensor will help people in several fields, including medical and sports – since it is able to detect an athlete’s physiological signals without any disturbance. MIMS

Read more:
5 wearable technologies for the hospital
The power of AI: 3 systems to assist doctors and patients
Age-related blindness: How a revolutionary eye-drop can address the problem

Sources:
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/wear-this-device-to-monitor-the-heart
https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/07/19/Personalized-wearable-sensor-measures-body-temperature/2501500468487/
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/health/breathable
wearable-sensor-temporary-tattoo.html