ICFO Develops Graphene-Based Wearable Health Monitoring Devices

ICFO graphene sensors
Image: ICFO via Graphene Flagship

The number of different graphene-based wearable prototypes emerging today is growing rapidly. Scientists at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) are currently developing a disposable patch packed with graphene-based sensors that measures vitals like heart rate, oxygen saturation, hydration temperature, UV exposure, temperature, and breath rate. While sensors found in most fitness trackers use LED light, the new graphene-based sensor uses ambient light that passes through the optical sensors, hits the skin, and comes back to read your vitals. People can use the fitness band, for example, when they are doing exercise.

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The new fitness band created by ICFO uses the same core technology as its UV patch. However, this device does much more than simply measure the user’s physical activity.

“Consider the following scenario. A person is trekking in the remote Amazon jungle with limited access to water. By measuring the skin hydration of their body with ICFO’s fitness band, the user can optimize water intake, preventing any sort of dehydration, said a ICFO press release.

“Similarly, an explorer hiking to the peak of Mount Everest could use the band to accurately monitor oxygen saturation in blood. The high altitude can severely affect oxygen saturation in the body. Using the band, the hiker could monitor these levels and emit a warning if oxygen saturation in the blood decreases drastically below a certain level.”

wearable sensor
Image: ICFO

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The graphene-based camera sensor can be built into a smartphone camera where it will allow the phone to see more than what’s visible to the human eye. “Made up of hundreds of thousands of photodetectors, this incredibly small sensor is highly sensitive to UV and infrared light,” said Frank Koppens, group leader at Graphene Flagship partner ICFO.

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