Wearable Bandage Continuously Tracks Covid-19 Symptoms

Featured Health Tech

Wireless sensor gently sits on throat to monitor coughs, fever and respiratory activity

Researchers at Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago have developed a novel wearable device and are creating a set of data algorithms specifically tailored to catch early signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19 and to monitor patients as the illness progresses. 

Based on a research paper titled Mechano-acoustic sensing of physiological processes and body motions via a soft wireless device placed at the suprasternal notch, the device which looks like a small bandage incorporates machine learning It can monitor a host of real-time recordings of heart rate, respiration rate, energy intensity and other essential vital signs, as well as talking time and cadence, swallow counts and patterns, and other unconventional biomarkers. 

The measurements are a complex superposition of signals that arise from locomotion, body orientation, swallowing, respiration, cardiac activity, vocal-fold vibrations and other sources. Capable of being worn 24/7, the device produces continuous streams of data and uses artificial intelligence to uncover subtle, but potentially life-saving, insights. Filling a vital data gap, it continuously measures and interprets coughing and respiratory activity in ways that are impossible with traditional monitoring systems.

Developed in an engineering laboratory at Northwestern and using custom algorithms being created by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab scientists, the devices are currently being used at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab by COVID-19 patients and the healthcare workers who treat them. About 25 affected individuals began using the devices two weeks ago. They are being monitored both in the clinic and at home, totaling more than 1,500 cumulative hours and generating more than one terabyte of data.

This is very exciting technology which will hopefully give us far more information on how this disease affects patients but also allows those who need immediate, urgent care to be treated quickly.