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Brief Published: 4 Nov 2015

Ultra-Thin Wearable Monitors Health

This tiny wearable device measures blood flow in tissue below the skin

A global consortium of scientists and researchers has invented a flexible wearable device that provides information on health by measuring blood flow, according to an October 2015 article in US scientific journal Science Advances.

The tiny patch conforms to the surface of the wearer's skin and uses heat sensors to map and measure the characteristics of blood movement in the tissue below. Data collected gives doctors insight into conditions that are often difficult to detect noninvasively. For example, the device can identify infection or inflammation by an increase in local blood flow, or heart failure and diabetes by a decrease.

Patients are receiving better care, tailored to their individual needs, as a result of the new predictive technology. The device is available for use in a clinical setting and is mainly being used to monitor the health of patients who have recently had skin-graft surgery.

Global cosmetics company L'Oréal helped fund the research and is now manufacturing the devices for its clinical research dermatologists to use in the study of skin health. The firm has also developed software that automates the data analysis and displays this on a simplified graphical user interface.

Advancements in flexible displays and conductive textiles are driving the next wave of wearable tech innovation, as highlighted in our reporting from the Wearable Technology Show 2015. For more insight on how the boundary between medical devices and consumer products is blurring, take a look at Wired Health 2015.

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