Category Archives: Sensors

Sweat sensor for cystic fibrosis detection, drug optimization, glucose monitoring


Carlos Milla, Ronald Davis, and Stanford and Berkeley colleagues have developed a wearable sweat sensor for detecting cystic fibrosis, diabetes and other diseases.  It can also aid drug development and personalization, and continuously monitor patients.

The flexible sensor/microprocessor system adheres to the skin, stimulates sweat glands, and detects the presence of molecules and ions based on electrical signals.  Increased chloride generates increased electrical voltage at the sensor’s surface.  High levels of chloride ions indicate cystic fibrosis.

Conventional methods for diagnosing cystic fibrosis require a visit to a specialized center, where a patient does not move for 30 minutes, while electrodes stimulate their sweat glands. A lab then measures chloride ions in the sweat to diagnose the disease. This method hasn’t changed in 70 years.

The wearable sweat sensor stimulates skin to produce minute amounts of sweat, quickly evaluates the contents, and sends the data via phone, to the cloud, for immediate analysis.   The system is portable and self-contained, and ideal for use in children, and in underserved communities.

As CF is caused by hundreds of different mutations in the CF gene,  it’s possible to use the sensor to determine which drugs work best for which mutations.

The device was also used to compare levels of glucose in sweat to that in blood.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston on September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab. Featuring Joi Ito – Ed Boyden – Roz Picard – George Church – Tom Insel – John Rogers – Jamshid Ghajar – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator


Verily’s health sensing research watch


The  Verily Study Watch passively captures health data for continuous care platforms and clinical research. Key features described by the company include:

  • Multiple physiological and environmental sensors are designed to measure relevant signals for studies spanning cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas. Examples include electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements.
  • A long battery life of up to one week in order to drive better user compliance during longitudinal studies.
  • Large internal storage and data compression allow the device to store weeks’ worth of raw data, thus relaxing the need to frequently sync the device.
  • A powerful processor supports real time algorithms on the device.
  • The firmware is designed to be robust for future extensions, such as over-the-air updates, new algorithms, and user interface upgrades.
  • The display is always on so that time is always shown. The display is low power and high resolution for an appealing look and a robust user interface. Note: currently, only time and certain instructions are displayed. No other information is provided back to the user.

The watch will be used in Verily’s current and forthcoming studies, such as the  Personalized Parkinson’s Project, meant to track progression, and the Baseline study, meant to understand transitions between health and disease.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring: Joi Ito, Ed Boyden, Roz Picard, George Church, Tom Insel, John Rogers, Jamshid Ghajar, Phillip Alvelda and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Apple reportedly developing non-invasive glucose monitor


CNBC’s Christina Farr has reported that Apple has been quietly developing a non-invasive, sensor-based glucose monitor.  The technology has apparently advanced to the trial stage.

Diabetes has become a global epidemic.  Continuous monitoring, automatic insulin delivery, and the “artificial pancreas” are significant steps forward, meant to control the disease, and avoid its debilitating side effects.  While some systems consist of micro-needles just below the skin, to date, none are totally non-invasive.

The ideal solution would be the use of the Apple Watch and other fitness/lifestyle trackers to control behavior to the point that the disease is avoided entirely.  However, if diagnosed, a non-invasive glucose sensor would transform the daily life of diabetics.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring: Joi Ito, Ed Boyden, Roz Picard, George Church, Tom Insel, John Rogers, Jamshid Ghajar, Phillip Alvelda and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Solar powered, highly sensitive, graphene “skin” for robots, prosthetics


Professor Ravinder Dahiya, at the University of Glasgow, has created a robotic hand with solar-powered graphene “skin” that he claims is more sensitive than a human hand.  The flexible, tactile, energy autonomous “skin” could be used in health monitoring wearables and in prosthetics, reducing the need for external chargers. (Dahiya is now developing a low-cost 3-D printed prosthetic hand incorporating the skin.)

Click to view University of Glasgow video

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers, Jamshid Ghajar and  Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab


Future hearable sensors could track physical, emotional state


Apple has filed patent applications describing wireless earbuds that monitor health while a wearer talks on the phone or listens to music.  This has obvious exercise-related implications, but could potentially track the physiological impact of one’s emotional state while making calls, as a mobile mental health tool.

Sensors included in the patent include EKG, ICG, VO2 and GSR.

Click to view patent applications:

Patent 1   |   Patent 2   |   Patent 3

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Soft, flexible “skin-like” electrodes could improve brain interfaces


Stanford professor Zhenan Bao‘s latest flexible electronic initiative is the development of a plastic electrode that stretches like rubber but carries electricity like wires. This could be improve implanted brain interfaces which require soft and highly sensitive materials.

In a recent paper, Bao’s team describes the chemical modification of  brittle plastic to make it highly bendable, while enhancing  electrical conductivity. A more seamless connection between stiff electronics and flexible organic electrodes in our bodies is achieved.

According to lead author Yue Wang, “One thing about the human brain that a lot of people don’t know is that it changes volume throughout the day, It swells and deswells.”  Current electronic implants can’t stretch and contract with the brain, making it difficult to maintain a good connection.

Click to view Stanford University video.

Professor Bao was the keynote speaker at ApplySci’s recent Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech conference at Stanford.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Thin, flexible, insulated sensor could monitor the heart for 70 years


Northwestern’s John Rogers has developed a sensor that can monitor electrical activity irregularities in the heart for 70 years.  The sensor is much safer and more refined than current technology, which degrades easily, and can harm patients.

An array of 396 voltage sensors are set in a very thin, multi-layer, flexible substrate,  meant to attach to the outside of the heart, covering a significant portion of the organ. Previous sensors arrays picked up signals through direct contact between a metal conductor and human tissue. The new array is covered with an insulating layer of impermeable silicon dioxide. This is a dramatic improvement on metal conductors, which corrode and allow biological fluids to leak through, which can lead to a short circuit and, potentially, ventricular fibrillation and cardiovascular collapse.  Previous attempts at  the adding an  insulating layer have been too thick for the signal to be recorded effectively.

According to Rogers: “You want this layer to be as thin as possible to enable a strong electrical coupling to the surrounding tissue, but you need it to be thick enough to serve as a robust barrier to water penetration.”  He seems to have achieved just this.

Rogers believes that with a larger surface area and more nodes, the sensors could one day cover most of the body’s organs . He will test whether they can both collect data and deliver energy to an organ, such as a pacemaker, or be able to study the underlying function of the brain.

Professor Rogers was a speaker at ApplySci’s recent Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference, on February 8, 2017, at Stanford University.)  He will  present his latest work our upcoming Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference, on September 19th at the MIT Media Lab.

Sensors inform skilled nursing care


IBM has partnered with Avamere skilled nursing facilities to sudy the use of cognitive computing to improve caregiver knowledge and actions. By embedding sensors that gather physical and environmental data in  senior living facilities, Avamere hopes to reduce hospital admission rates.

Patient movement, air quality, gait analysis and other fall risk factors, personal hygiene, sleeping patterns, incontinence and trips to the bathroom will be monitored. IBM will  analyze the data to create an understanding of each patient, and be able to predict and hopefully prevent negative outcomes.

One Avemere company, Infinity Rehab, already integrates sensor – derived health data in physical, occupational, and speech therapy protocols.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Sensor detects HIV in first week of infection


Spanish National Research Council researchers have developed a biosensor that detects the p24 antigen protein at concentrations 100,000 times lower than in current techniques. This has enabled the creation of  a test that can detect HIV in the blood within one week of infection. It takes 5 hours, offering results the same day.

The inexpensive sensor combines micro-mechanical silicon structures and gold nanoparticles. Current antigen tests can detect HIV three weeks after infection. RNA tests can detect the virus in 10 days, but cost much more.

According to CSIC researcher Priscila Koska, “The potential for HIV infectivity in the first stage of infection is much higher than in the later stages. Therefore, initiating antiretroviral therapy prior to seroconversion improves immune control and has been associated with benefits in CD4 cell count, a reduction in systemic inflammation, the preservation of cognitive function, and a reduction of the latent reservoir. Logically, its detection is critical to the prevention of HIV transmission.”

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Sensor, data, and AI-driven primary care


Forward has brought advanced technology to well-care.

Patient/Members are integrated into the practice with a baseline  screening via body scans, blood and genetic tests.  They are then given consumer and medical wearables, which work with proprietary algorithms, for continuous monitoring (and access to data), personalized treatment, and emergency alerts. Physical exam rooms display all of the data during doctor visits,

Ongoing primary care, including continuous health monitoring, body scans, gynecology, travel vaccinations, medication, nutrition guidance, blood tests and skin care is included in the fee-based system.

Forward investor Vinod Khosla will be interviewed by ApplySci’s Lisa Weiner Intrator on stage at Digital Health + NeuroTech at Stanford on February 7th at 4:15pm.

ApplySci’s 6th  Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Roozbeh Ghaffari –Tarun Wadhwa – Eythor Bender – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Sky Christopherson – Marcus Weldon – Krishna Shenoy – Karl Deisseroth – Shahin Farshchi – Casper de Clercq – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Dirk Schapeler – Miguel Nicolelis