Wearable sensor technology enables SIDS prevention, revolutionizes kidney testing

Parents may be able to sleep easier with a newborn in the house with the advent of new technology that comes in the form of a wearable romper with sensors that immediately indicate if a baby stops breathing.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin developed the clothing using stretchable circuit boards made of polyurethane (PU) ironed into a traditional romper suit. Monitoring breathing on the baby's chest and stomach helps parents prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

"The circuit board we have developed can be manufactured using routine industrial processes, meaning a high throughput and, consequently, good cost efficiency," Manuel Seckel, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute, said in an announcement.

PU plasters also are the foundation for a stretchable circuit board that can test kidney functions in patients. The technology is in development by researchers at the University of Heidelberg, who are collaborating with the Fraunhofer Institute.

Seckel said the plaster will allow doctors to monitor the breaking down of a substance injected into the patient's kidney, which is quicker, more accurate and more cost efficient than the standard procedure of taking blood samples every 30 minutes during a kidney test.

In technology developed by researchers at the University of Arkansas last spring, circuit board sensor technology was used for "E-bras" for women and undershirts for men. Wearing the sensors collects data on blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate and oxygen consumption and can prevent heart attacks by tracking brain activity that indicates an emerging heart attack. The data is then streamed to an app for smartphones and sent in emergency alerts, if necessary.

In May, the Federal Communications Commission approved a channel to accommodate wearable electronic devices, freeing up some patients who were previously bound to beds, allowing for 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for "medical body area network" (MBAN) devices.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the expansion "will allow providers to monitor patients' vital signs throughout the continuum of care, prevent adverse events and hospital readmissions, and ultimately lower healthcare costs."

To learn more:
- read the Fraunhofer Institute announcement

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