No need to lift a finger to have vital signs read

SINGAPORE – Putting on cumbersome devices to measure your heart rate, breathing and body movements may soon be a thing of the past.

Instead, a person does not have to do much besides sit down on a chair, or lie in bed. Thin and highly sensitive battery-powered mats placed under the sheets can sense a person’s vital signs in seconds.

The A3-sized sensor mats, built using optical fibres, are wirelessly linked to a computer for readings to be viewed and recorded easily.

The new technology is expected to be launched commercially next year, said Dr Chen Zhihao, a senior scientist at the Institute for Infocomm Research, which is under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

The project started in 2011 and is partly funded by A*Star’s Biomedical Engineering Programme.

Dr Chen said the system is particularly useful in hospitals and nursing homes.

For instance, it can reduce the workload for nurses, who no longer have to manually take patients’ readings at regular intervals.

The sensor mats, each containing optical fibres 4m to 5m long, can also detect movement.

This means an alarm can be sounded if a patient falls off the chair, or has been lying still in bed for far too long.

Other uses include sleep monitoring. The system can detect apnoea events, which are characterised by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep.

“The beauty of the technology is that a person just has to sit or lie down, and that’s it,” said Dr Chen.

Source: The Straits Times
Published: 29 Nov 2013

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