Breakthrough Wearable Technology for Continuous Health Monitoring via Innovative Devices Capturing Body Sounds
Northwestern University researchers have introduced innovative soft, miniaturized wearable devices designed to continuously monitor internal body sounds, presenting a departure from traditional episodic measurements taken during periodic doctor visits. These devices adhere gently to the skin and use pairs of high-performance digital microphones and accelerometers, encapsulated in soft silicone, to create a non-invasive sensing network. Measuring 40mm in length, 20mm in width, and 8mm in thickness, each device incorporates a flash memory drive, a tiny battery, electronic components, Bluetooth capabilities, and two microphones—one facing inward toward the body and another outward toward the exterior. This design enables the capture of sounds in both directions, allowing an algorithm to distinguish between external and internal body sounds.
The unique capabilities of these devices offer several advantages, including continuous monitoring, spatial mapping across different regions of the body, wearability, and versatility in capturing a range of internal body sounds. The spatial mapping feature allows simultaneous monitoring and comparison of various regions, making it particularly valuable for detecting subtle changes indicative of potential health issues.
During the developmental phase, the devices were tested on vulnerable populations, specifically premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and post-surgery adults. Monitoring premature babies during their transition from the womb to the outside world is crucial, and these wearable devices provide a non-invasive means of tracking their respiratory systems. Additionally, the devices were tested on adult patients, including those with chronic lung diseases and healthy controls, successfully capturing lung sounds and body motions at different locations simultaneously.
The continuous and real-time data collected by these devices hold promise for revolutionizing healthcare monitoring, offering a more detailed and immediate understanding of patients' internal body processes. Furthermore, the potential for remote monitoring could enhance healthcare providers' ability to assess and respond to changes in patients' conditions without the need for frequent in-person visits.