While there are wearable monitors that measure a person’s respiration rate, they can’t track the volume of air that a patient inspires. For people with asthma and other lung conditions, this is an important indicator that can be used to assess the patient’s status.
Engineers at University of California, Irvine have now developed a cheap and easy to use respiration monitor based on Shrinky Dinks, a popular children’s craft toy. It consists of two piezo-resistive sensors that are stuck around the ribs and abdomen, and which measure the strain on the tissues they’re pressed against.
Shrinky Dinks are plastic films that shrink when heated, so the team applied a conductive metal film to them and applying heat. The resulting component can be stuck to a bandage, resulting in a final product. Measuring the slight electric current produced by the sensors provides an indicator of the strain imposed on them.
The researchers compared their device against a medical spirometer, which showed that at rest there’s a close correlation. The team also showed that their device works well while people wearing it are walking around.
Some of the next steps will integrating the existing components with wireless Bluetooth connectivity to allow for easy continuous tracking using one’s smartphone or other mobile device, and to prepare the technology for manufacturing.
Study in journal npj Digital Medicine: Respiration rate and volume measurements using wearable strain sensors…