New thread may be fabric for mobile sensor platform, biological network

Thread could one day collect, house and share healthcare data thanks to three-dimensional sensor integration.

A smart thread-based diagnostic device platform, which could integrate with smartphones for data sharing, supports tissue monitoring via physical and chemical sensors, according to new research published at Microsystems & Nanoengineering. The researchers have developed such a suite of sensors for measuring pH, glucose levels, and temperature.

“We generated an entire toolkit of these threads,” Sameer Sonkusale, a Tufts University professor of electrical engineering and study co-author, told STAT. The threads can transport body fluids for analysis and transmit data without wires. The latter would allow doctors to learn, in real time, if a patient’s vital sign is erratic or if a wound is not healing and in danger of infection.

Sensor-based mHealth technology is of increasing interest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is studying wearable tools can help emergency responders and working on a technical report on the landscape of sensors in healthcare.

With the latest study researchers say the woven thread approach may prove more accurate and dependable then sensors which rely on skin as a platform for monitoring, and could be much cheaper.

“The primary benefit is that threads are low in cost and are biocompatible, having been widely used in the apparel industry,” according to the article's authors.

For more information:
- read the STAT article
- here's the study