Wearable Smart Stickers May Save Lives of Patients, Athletes and Cut Medical Costs

Wearable Smart Stickers
Image: Purdue University

Heart surgery in itself can be a traumatic experience for patients, and having to continuously monitor your health status without a doctor present when you’re back home can be even scarier. A simple sticker may perform the task well and keep you tension free.

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Researchers at Purdue University have created sticker like wearable electronic devices that someone can easily attach to their skin. The devices are made out of paper to lower the cost of personalized medicine.

“For the first time, we have created wearable electronic devices that someone can easily attach to their skin and are made out of paper to lower the cost of personalized medicine,” said Ramses Martinez, a Purdue assistant professor of industrial engineering and biomedical engineering, who led the research team.

The new technology comes at a time, when Purdue is celebrating Giant Leaps, acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in health as part of the institution’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues, reports Purdue Newsroom.

The researchers used cellulose, a substance that is both biocompatible and breathable, to make the smart stickers. They are able to monitor physical activity and alert the user about possible health risks in real time.

Wearable Smart Stickers
Image: Purdue University

The stickers could be used as implantable sensors, allowing doctors to sleep activity of patients. The stickers conform to internal organs without causing any adverse reactions. Athletes could also use the technology to monitor their health while exercising and swimming.

To make them as thin and stretchable as skin, the stickers are patterned in serpentine shapes, making them unnoticeable for the wearer.

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To prevent degradation, the stickers were coated with molecules that repel water, oil, dust and bacteria.

The stickers are also cheap, costing around a nickel to produce each one. They can be made using printing and manufacturing technologies similar to those used to print books at high speed.

“The low cost of these wearable devices and their compatibility with large-scale manufacturing techniques will enable the quick adoption of these new fully disposable, wearable sensors in a variety of health care applications requiring single-use diagnostic systems,” said Martinez.

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Cathy Russey () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies and specialized in writing about the latest medical wearables and enabling technologies on the market. Cathy can be contacted at info(at)wearable-technologies.com.