Thu. May 19th, 2022

Engineers at the University of Arizona have developed a method for 3D printing of medical-grade portable devices such as these, based on the user’s body scan. Credits: Gutruf Lab / University of Arizona

New personal devices can mean significant improvements in the ability to monitor and treat illness, test new drugs, and track a person’s health.

Portable sensors that monitor everything from step to pulse are almost everywhere. Scenarios such as Measuring the onset of frailty in the elderly, rapid diagnosis of fatal diseases, testing the efficacy of new drugs, and tracking the performance of professional athletes require medical-grade equipment.

Engineers at the University of Arizona have developed a type of laptop called a “biological symbiotic device.” This has several unprecedented benefits. The device is custom 3D-printed and based on the user’s body scan, as well as being able to operate continuously using a combination of wireless power transfer and compact energy storage. Philipp Gutruf, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Craig M from the Faculty of Engineering. The team, led by the Berge Faculty Fellow, announced the findings in Science Advances today.

“There is nothing like this,” said Gutruf, a member of the university’s BIO5 Institute. “We have introduced a whole new concept of adapting the device directly to the person and using wireless power casting so that the device can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without charging.”

Engineers at the University of Arizona have developed a new type of portable device that is 3D-printed to fit the user. The device operates continuously using a combination of wireless power transmission and compact energy storage. Credits: Gutruf Lab / University of Arizona

Custom fit allows for accurate monitoring

Today’s portable sensors face a number of limitations. For example, smartwatches need to be charged and placed on the wrist so that they can only collect a limited amount of data. Gutruf and his team have created a custom device that wraps various body parts using 3D scans of the user’s body that can be collected using methods such as MRI, CT scans and even carefully combined smartphone images. You can print in 3D. Consider a lightweight, breathable mesh cuff that is barely noticeable, specifically designed for the biceps, calves and torso. The ability to specialize in sensor placement enables researchers to measure physiological parameters that could not be measured otherwise.

Run on biosymbiotic device

Engineers at the University of Arizona have developed a method for 3D printing of such portable devices in medical grade based on the user’s body scan. Credits: Gutruf Lab / University of Arizona

“If you, for example. Continuously need something close to the core body temperature, place the sensor under your armpit or if you want to measure how your biceps are deformed during exercise. You can place the sensor on a device that can do that, ”says Tucker Stuart, Ph.D. -student in biomedical engineering and lead author of the paper. “By manufacturing the device and attaching it to the body, it can be used to collect data that traditional wrist-mounted portable devices could not.”

These biosymbiotic devices are also adapted to the user for increased sensitivity. Gutruf’s team tested the device’s ability to monitor parameters such as temperature and load when a person jumps, walks on a treadmill or uses a rowing machine. In the rowing machine test, the subjects wore several devices to closely monitor the training intensity and how the muscles are deformed. The device was accurate enough to detect changes in body temperature caused by climbing a single flight of stairs.

Continuous, wireless and effortless

Gutruf and his team are not the first to adapt wearables to track health and physical function. However, current wearables do not have the ability to continuously track metrics or track them with sufficient accuracy to draw medically meaningful conclusions.

Some wearables used by researchers have blemishes that stick to the skin, but they come off when the skin undergoes a normal degradation process or when the subject sweats. Even highly sophisticated wearables used in clinical settings, such as ECG monitors, face these problems. Because it is not wireless, mobility is severely limited. When the patient is connected to a bulky external device, the patient is unable to lead a normal daily life.

The biosymbiotic device introduced by Gutruf’s team is glue – free and receives power from a wireless system within a range of several meters. The device also includes a small energy storage device that works even if the carrier goes out of range of the system, including outside the home.

“These devices are designed so that they do not require dialogue with the user,” Gutruf said. “It’s as easy as putting on a device. Then you forget it and it does the job. ”

Reference: “Biosymbiotic, personal and digitally manufactured wireless devices for indefinite collection of high quality biosignals”, October 8, 2021. Science advances..
DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abj3269

This study was funded by the Flynn Foundation Translational Bioscience Seed Grants Pilot Program. The team also worked with the university’s commercialization arm, Tech Launch Arizona, to launch a startup to protect intellectual property and bring technology to market.

3D-printed personal, wireless wearables that never need a fee

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