Reusable sensor helps monitor Covid-19 through smartphone

June 02, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Researchers at Northwestern University in the US have developed a wireless sensor that sits on a patient’s throat to monitor coughs, fever and respiratory activity for Covid-19 at home via a smartphone.
Researchers in the US have developed a wireless sensor that sits on a patient’s throat to monitor coughs, fever and respiratory activity for Covid-19 at home via a smartphone.

As the initial peak of the Covid-19 pandemic passes, researchers are looking more closely at ways to monitor patients who might have the disease, first in hospital and now at home.

Researchers at Northwestern University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago initially developed the wearable device to monitor the symptoms of a stroke, but are now creating a set of data algorithms to catch early signs and symptoms associated with Covid-19. This uses similar algorithms to the patient deterioration disposable patch developed by Philips that is now being used in a hospital in the Netherlands:  WEARABLE BIOSENSOR MONITORS PATIENTS FOR EARLY DETERIORATION

About 25 affected individuals began using the Northwestern device two weeks ago and the researchers at the Ability Lab are using data from the clinic and at home to refine the algorithms.

Rather than relying just on temperature, the sensor monitors coughing intensity and patterns, chest wall movements (which indicate laboured or irregular breathing), respiratory sounds and heart rate. The data is wirelessly sent to a secure cloud, where automated algorithms produce graphical summaries to provide rapid, remote monitoring.

Because it is fully encased without wires, electrodes, charge ports or removable batteries, the wirelessly-charged device can be worn while exercising or in the shower. The sealed design is also important for sterilization and reuse.

“This is absolutely critical for use in the context of this extremely contagious disease,” said John Rogers at Northwestern Engineering who led the technical development. “Because it is fully sealed in a soft biocompatible silicone material, it can be completely immersed in alcohol, and then exposed to a gas-based system for rigorous sterilization. If there were exposed regions, or plugs or ports or other physical interfaces, the device would not be relevant for this application.”

“The most recent studies suggest that the earliest signs of a COVID-19 infection are fever, coughing, and difficulty in breathing. Our device sits at the


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