min read
May 5, 2015

Wearable Tech Harnessing Body Heat As Power Source

Digital Transformation

Researchers at the University of Virginia recently revealed body heat-powered sensors that run on 1/10,000,000 of the energy of a lightbulb. Given these advancements in next generation wearable sensors, healthcare providers would be surely mistaken not to take advantage of this emerging technology.

Bite-Sized Healthcare

The future of healthcare is on the horizon, and if you’re not looking closely, you might not even see it. That’s because new advancements in wearable sensors that track and monitor your health will take the form of patches so small and clear, you’ll forget they’re even there.According to Phys.org, Researchers at the University of Virginia recently developed a body heat-powered ECG sensor with dimensions of 3.3mm x 2.5mm — if you’re counting at home, that’s about the size of a grain of rice.This amazing new piece of technology is not only miniscule, it’s also incredibly durable and efficient, requiring only 19 uW on average to run. For reference, that’s about one 10-millionth of the power used by an average light bulb.While the current market is loaded with various types of wearable sensors, like smart watches that track your heartbeat and headbands that record brain waves, these products still suffer from a number of deficiencies — namely, their design and battery life.

How to Improve Wearable Trackers

A recent study conducted by Endeavor Partners revealed that one-third of American customers have discontinued use of their wearable activity trackers. This is mainly because these devices need to be constantly recharged, and eventually, people simply forget to put them on again.Moreover, the current market of wearable trackers is simply too limited in its ability to monitor health, as the majority of these products fail to reproduce clinical-quality data.So what needs to happen to take wearable trackers to the next level? The researchers at UVA realized that it’s possible to harness an abundance of energy using existing sources.Employing a combination of radio frequencies — found everywhere thanks to cellular networks, WiFi networks, and radio towers — they also created a radio frequency-powered sensor for wireless temperature measurements that doesn’t require constant charging.Yet, the real goldmine in all this research resides in wearable sensor technology. By minimizing size and increasing durability, these devices are a potential game changer for the healthcare sector. Other advances in wearable sensors look to not only monitor surface area vitals, but also oversee what’s happening inside the body.By measuring the electrolytes, metabolites, and molecules from sweat, these sensors can detect ridiculously detailed molecular information and specify it to current conditions.Physicians and researchers agree that the possibilities in sensor wearing technology could provide endless value and revolutionize the healthcare industry in the process. By collecting and analyzing real data from these devices, physicians can provide immediate and reliable service to patients through the ability to monitor the individual’s health status at all times while targeting specific medical conditions.Not only will these advancements allow for more efficient medical practices, but they offer the chance to cut healthcare costs significantly. Now that’s progress everyone can get behind.

Brian Manning