APR 01, 2021 7:00 AM PDT

E-Skin Device Sticks onto Throat, Detects COVID Infections

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

What is e-skin technology? These wearable electronics are soft, flexible, and stick onto the surface of the skin with a vast array of potential health-monitoring applications. E-skin devices could help monitor real-time changes in seniors' vital signs with underlying health conditions or check hydration levels in athletes, for example.

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed an e-skin device to spot the symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infections. Bioelectronics pioneer John Rogers led the research.

Among the early COVID-19 symptoms are fever (98%), cough (65%), and shortness of breath (55%). However, low oxygen levels are another cardinal marker of the infection, one that most don’t tend to notice until they require urgent medical care. Pulse oximeters can measure blood oxygen levels, but it’s hard to go about your day with the device constantly clipped onto a fingertip.

Here’s where on-body, skin-integrated sensors can help. The e-skin device developed by Rogers’ team is small, discrete, and comfortable to wear. It is stuck on to the base of the neck and measures vital signs, including breathing, heart rates, cardiac amplitudes, coughing, and wheezing. The user can shower and exercise normally while wearing the device.

Rogers and the team tested their device in a pilot study with around 50 participants and collected several terabytes of raw data on their biometrics. The team developed an automated data management system to acquire and upload this data to the cloud, where machine learning algorithms assess for the presence of COVID-19 symptoms and map recovery trajectories.

While the e-skin monitoring device has yet to become commercially available, it has been deployed to 400 front-line health workers and patients in the Chicago, Illinois area.  

“Our device addresses a key issue in the COVID-19 pandemic: the limited capacity of healthcare systems,” said Rogers. 

“By continuously monitoring high-risk individuals, such as healthcare workers and the elderly, we can minimize the number of unnecessary hospital visits and provide an early warning to enable preventive measures.”

 


Sources: Science Advances, Northwestern University, Nature.

 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
AUG 03, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A pediatric-friendly drug to combat snail fever
AUG 03, 2021
A pediatric-friendly drug to combat snail fever
           Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia or snail fever, is a disease  ...
SEP 14, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
SEP 14, 2021
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
A new app allows users to self-test for HIV, which has proven to help positive patients get access to medical care and c ...
OCT 06, 2021
Technology
New Sensor Could Detect Antibiotics In Your Breath
OCT 06, 2021
New Sensor Could Detect Antibiotics In Your Breath
Antibiotics are the cornerstone of treatment for bacterial infections. Though antibiotic resistance caused by the incorr ...
OCT 07, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Color-Changing Slides Improve Accuracy in Cancer Diagnosis
OCT 07, 2021
Color-Changing Slides Improve Accuracy in Cancer Diagnosis
When cancer is diagnosed, a sample has to be taken from a patient, treated, and analyzed. Researchers have now modified ...
NOV 08, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Sample Prep Possibilities: How to Gauge Your "Good Enough"
NOV 08, 2021
Sample Prep Possibilities: How to Gauge Your "Good Enough"
As scientists, we can be very uncomfortable with the concept of “good enough”. It feels contrary to everythi ...
NOV 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A New Light: How a Particle Accelerator Helped Solve a COVID Mystery
NOV 09, 2021
A New Light: How a Particle Accelerator Helped Solve a COVID Mystery
We know that the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the lungs. About 14 percent of cases are severe, with patients’ lungs ...
Loading Comments...