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Untitled-1Bioelectronics, a relatively new field of research, has created synergy between electronics and medicine and is rapidly making futuristic healthcare a reality.

Medical professionals and scientists forecast that health sensors will make it easier to monitor health, nipping problems in the bud and enabling timely and targeted care.
There are a host of strap-on and bracelet style gadgets (Fitbit, Striiv, etc) fitted with sensors that monitor and collect vital information about the body and transmit it (via Bluetooth or WiFi) to the patient’s or doctor’s smart phone. However, the new generation of health sensors are less intrusive and more intelligent.

MC10, a bioelectronics firm in USA has developed stamp-sized, flexible and razor thin sensors that can be affixed to the body (like a children’s tattoo or band-aid). The sensors can detect a host of vital information including heart rate, body temperature, hydration levels, UV exposure and even impact of injuries. All the collected data is relayed in real time to the patient and doctor, so it can be remotely monitored, and immediate action can be taken to correct the problem if needed.

On the other hand, scientists at the Universities of Bristol, Reading and Southampton have collaborated to develop SPHERE (Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment), a minute sensor that can be fitted around the home, on a patient’s person or even be implanted into the body. This sensor system is capable of detecting when a person is ill by picking up changes in movements, habits, diet, weight, mood and heart rate; it can also detect the body’s response to medication. In case of irregularities the healthcare provider/doctor is immediately alerted.

Although these sensors are far from ready for commercial usage, they are slated to be the future of effective and cost efficient healthcare especially for those who are at high risk such as the elderly, overweight and depressive.

– Leila Mahfooz Barry

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 26, 2013.

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