A new entry into the field of what many are calling “wearable technology,” the BioScope takes care of much more than simply patching over a cut or a burn – it monitors a patient’s vital signs in real time.
The BioScope is 3D printed from soft, flexible NinjaFlex material, and can transmit data to doctors and nurses via a smartphone or tablet.
The work of PhD student Cheng-Yuan Li and a team from the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering and the Intel-NTU Connected Context Computing Center, the BioScope is the result of an effort to make “a convenient wearable design” for a device to monitor patients’ vital signs without using the typical hard-wired connections.
“If a patient wanted to go outside to get a bit of exercise, traditional medical equipment couldn’t be taken with them,” says Li. “We’re hoping that this kind of wearable, flexible device can keep monitoring their body information even though they leave the ward.”
As they work toward further development on the project, Li and the team are hoping medical device companies will use the bandage as a starting point to develop the next level of remote, wearable medical technology.
As it stands, the BioScope is capable of tracking a patient’s temperature, heartbeat, and movement, and then wirelessly transmitting that information to a tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth.
The sensor modules are 3D printed into the bandage, and those sensors can be removed or replaced by doctors or nursing staff according to a specific patient’s needs.
Additional features include that the system can measure electrical activity at the skin surface, the included contact thermometer measures body temperature, and an accelerometer is used to monitor a patient’s physical movement.
There’s even a “contact microphone” on board which can capture sound patterns from internal organs. The sound-collecting structure is similar to the bell structure of a stethoscope, and is included to boost the magnitude of body sounds for collection.
The team believes it might one day be possible, with improvements to the range of the device, for the BioScope to allow physicians to remotely diagnose and monitor patients once they’ve left the hospital.
Developed by a collaboration among nurses, engineers, and computer scientists at the university in Taipei, a variety of sensors can be stacked within the bandage.
“With our design we were hoping to provide something that’s wearable, and the most convenient wearable design is something you can just attach to body,” Li says. “Our system is flexible which means that medical workers can install different sensors to measure different patient body information in different situations.”
What sort of impact do you see 3D printing technology having on medical science and hospital practices? Weigh in with your thoughts and give us some examples in the 3D Printed BioScope thread on 3DPB.com.