LIFE-SAVING INNOVATION FOR INFANTS
"A miniaturized wireless oxygen sensor for sick infants are being developed"
Surabaya, 2020 - Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are developing a sensor with the size of a Band-Aid to measure a baby’s blood oxygen levels, a vital indication of the lung’s effectiveness, as well as to check whether the baby’s tissue receives adequate oxygen supply. Specifically, the team has designed a miniature oxygen monitor for infants which measures blood gases diffusing through the skin and reports the data wirelessly. Thus, unlike the current hospital system, this miniaturized wearable device will be flexible, stretchable, wireless, inexpensive, and mobile. As this device will enable infants to be untethered from wired sensors, this project will allow the child to leave the hospital and be examined remotely more easily and frequently.
One of the underlying reasons behind this new project is the fact that staying in the hospital is costly which can be a burden to families. Moreover, it is proved that babies’ health improves when they are with their families. Thus, through this new project, both doctors and families can enjoy the benefit where doctors can have more flexibility in monitoring their patients in the hospital as well as at home.
This new healthcare device will use wireless power transfer to connect with the internet wirelessly. It will enable the medical personnel and family members to receive a notification if the baby’s oxygen level begins to drop. This device is designed specifically to measure PO2 or the partial pressure of oxygen, which indicates the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood. Furthermore, measuring PO2 is critical as it is believed to be more accurate as a respiratory health indicator compared to the simple oxygen saturation measurement.
The wearable baby oxygen monitor would also be useful for some adults, especially those who have asthma and seniors with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is an incurable lethal disease. WPI’s researchers will also modify the wearable device for adults, and create a related smartphone app, in another phase of their research.
Additionally, the team will collaborate with professors from other medical schools to create a chip which will eventually act as the heart of the wearable device. The concept of the project is that if the doctor or the person in charge is able to generate more accessible data from the person, then they will be able to take care of these patients better. The chip, which is intended to work inside the oxygen monitor, activates optical sensors, captures analogue signals from the sensor, handles power management, and contains required circuitry. In the future, they plan to provide the chip with more circuitries to digitize the analogue signals, transmit the captured and digitized data, and create power from a wireless link. In other words, through this new phase’s development, it will be a complete system on the chip. This new noninvasive, untethered, accessible data collection will open up a whole new world of care.