Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Respiratory Monitor Made Using Children’s Toy

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a disposable, wearable respiratory monitor that provides continuous readings of a patient's respiratory health. The respiratory monitor was designed to help children suffering from asthma, cystic fibrosis, or other chronic lung conditions where constant monitoring is beneficial to the patient. To make the sensor, scientists turned to a popular children's toy, Shrinky Dinks. The team's research was recently published in the journal npj Digital Medicine.

wearable respiratory monitor
The paired sensors — one placed between the ninth and 10th ribs and the other on the abdomen — track the rate and volume of the wearer’s respiration by measuring the local strain on the application areas. Credit: University of California, Irvine

“The current standard of care in respiration monitoring is a pulmonary function test that’s often difficult to perform and limited in terms of the snapshot it provides of a patient’s respiratory health – meaning problems can sometimes be missed,” says Michael Chu, graduate student researcher in biomedical engineering at University of California, Irving and lead author of the study. “Our new stretch sensors allow users to walk around and go about their lives while vital information on the health of their lungs is being collected.”

 

From the University of California, Irvine article: "Placed in two positions – one between the ninth and 10th ribs and another on the abdomen – the Band-Aid-like devices track the rate and volume of the wearer’s respiration by measuring the local strain on the application areas. The information gleaned could, in the case of asthma, help warn of an oncoming attack.

The devices are made by applying a very thin layer of metal to a sheet of the plastic toy and then heat-shrinking it to cause corrugation. The film is then transferred to a soft, stretchy material – similar to small bandage – that can be adhered to a patient. Signals from embedded sensors can be transmitted via Bluetooth to be displayed on a smartphone app."

 

Read more about the respiratory monitor that was made using a children's toy at University of California, Irvine