Medical

Fur is no problem for vitals-monitoring squishy sensor

Fur is no problem for vitals-m...
A diagram showing how the device is molded from silicone and water, with the finished product visible at the bottom
A diagram showing how the device is molded from silicone and water, with the finished product visible at the bottom
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A diagram showing how the device is molded from silicone and water, with the finished product visible at the bottom
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A diagram showing how the device is molded from silicone and water, with the finished product visible at the bottom

We've already seen quite a number of skin-adhered sensors that track people's vital signs. That's all very well and good if you're human, but what if you're a fur-covered animal? Well, there's now a sensor that works on them, too.

Developed by a team at Imperial College London, the stethoscope-like device is made of a squishy mix of silicone and water, inside of which is a microphone.

When applied via a strap to the fur of a creature such as a dog, it oozes down to fill any gaps between itself and their body, eliminating any air bubbles. As a result, its microphone is easily able to pick up the sound of the animal's heartbeat and respiration. That audio is converted to a digital signal, which is transmitted to a nearby laptop computer where it's analyzed and displayed in real time.

As an added bonus, the technology could also be used to monitor people's vitals, through their clothing. In fact, it's already been successfully tested on five humans, working through up to four layers of fabric. It has also been tried out on one dog, although it should work on a wide variety of furred animals.

Among other things, the device could be used to monitor pets while they're undergoing surgery, without requiring their fur to be shaved for the placement of a traditional sensor. It might also find use on bomb-sniffing dogs, tracking their physiological responses to determine when they've found explosives.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Source: Imperial College London

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