An inexpensive wearable, disposable respiration monitor was developed to provide high-fidelity readings on a continuous basis. University of California Irvine researchers designed the sensor primarily for pediatric use.

The strain sensor devices are fabricated by applying a very thin layer of metal to a sheet of plastic and then The wireless Bluetooth unit with a single strain sensor attached. Source: University of California IrvineThe wireless Bluetooth unit with a single strain sensor attached. Source: University of California Irvineheat-shrinking it to cause corrugation. The film is then transferred to a soft, stretchy material, similar to a small bandage, which can adhere to a patient’s skin.

With one placed between the ninth and tenth ribs and another on the abdomen, the devices track the rate and volume of the wearer’s respiration by measuring the local strain on the application areas. Signals can be transmitted via Bluetooth to be displayed on a smartphone app and could, for example, potentially warn of an oncoming attack in the case of asthma.

Tests conducted with healthy subjects demonstrated that both respiration rate and volume metrics were highly correlated with data recorded by a medical-grade continuous spirometer on subjects at rest. The system is also capable of detecting respiration under various ambulatory conditions. The low-powered piezo-resistive sensors can be useful in monitoring patients with chronic respiratory diseases in everyday settings and provide scope for measuring respiration outside of a clinical or controlled research environment using a smaller and more discrete wearable system.

A research paper is published in npj Digital Medicine.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com