Wearable sensors may be the future of Covid-19 homecare

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  • Scientists looked at the possibility of wearable devices being part of the detection and care of Covid-19 at home or in quarantine.
  • They found that most tested devices can help detect Covid-19 or other respiratory virus symptoms.
  • The devices are human friendly and give accurate data.

Researchers have found that newly-developed, wearable sensors show potential for the early detection of multiple symptoms indicating viral infections such as Covid-19.

The study published in Advanced Materials Technologies focused on wearable sensors for measuring the critical signals for diagnosing and monitoring Covid-19.

Testing the sensors

The researchers first looked at various respiratory sensors, such as electromechanical ones that detect the airflow of inhaled and exhaled breath.

They then looked at humidity sensors that detect the humidity changes in the breath. They also assessed temperature sensors that can sense the change in temperature of the inhaled or exhaled breath, and sensors for detecting diaphragm displacement during breathing using ultrasonic waves. 

The second aspect that researchers assessed were sensors that can be used for body temperature detection and monitoring. Finally, they examined wearable oxygen sensors that combine pulse oximetry with flexible materials. 

To create intelligent wearable devices, the researchers had to look at the most suitable materials and design for multimodality, reliability and effective data transmission.

The study authors say that key components for wearability include comfort, low cost, and noninvasiveness. Such devices also need to be durable, accurate, sensitive, and provide a quick response.

Tracking Covid-19 at home

The study shows that wearable sensors have a high potential for non-invasiveness and early diagnosis of diseases such as Covid-19.

The devices provide highly accurate respiration measurements as they can detect either humidity change or temperature change in the breath or measure the airflow, ultrasound reflection, and localised skin deformation associated with respiration.

The study also found that wearable temperature sensors offer continuous measurement of body temperature with the same precision as thermometers, which can help pick up symptoms such as fever.

Wearable sensors can also more conveniently measure blood oxygen levels. The authors point out that such sensors can be used on any part of the body and measure oxygen levels, similar to a standard pulse oximeter.

"This can facilitate remote health monitoring for people in need, like Covid-19 patients in self-isolation or the elderly in their home. Early detection of any abnormality in vital signs can greatly improve patient outcomes," the authors wrote.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

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