The Future is Here: The Smart Bandage!

electronic_skin_patchWith recent advances being made in flexible electronics, researchers are finding more and more ways to adapt medical devices to the human body. These include smart tattoos, stretchable patches for organs, and even implants. But what of band-aids? Aren’t they about due for an upgrade? Well as it happens, a team of chemical engineering at Northeastern University are working towards just that.

Led by associate professor Ed Goluch, the team is working towards the development of a “smart bandage” that will not only dress wounds, but can monitor infections and alert patients to their existence. Based around an electrochemical sensor that is capable of detecting Pseudomonas aerug­i­nosa – a common bacteria that can kill if untreated – this bandage could very prove to be the next big step in first aid.

smart_bandaidAccording to Goluch, the idea came to him while he was studying how different bacterial cells behave individually and he and his colleagues began speaking about building other types of sensors:

I was designing sensors to be able to track individual cells, measure how they produce different toxins and compounds at the single-cell level and see how they change from one cell to another and what makes one cell more resistant to an antibiotic.

Naturally, addition research is still needed so that smart band-aids of this kind would be able to detect other forms of infections. And Goluch and his colleagues are quite confident, claiming that they are adapting their device to be able to detect the specific molecules emitted by Staphylococcal – the bacteria responsible for staph infections.

???????????????????????????????So far, Goluch and his team have tested the system with bacteria cultures and sensors. The next step, which he hopes to begin fairly soon, will involve humans and animals testing. The professor isn’t sure exactly how much the sensor would cost when commercialized, but he believes “it’s simple enough that you’d be able to integrate it in a large volume fairly cheap.”

At this rate, I can foresee a future where all first-aid devices are small patches that are capable of gathering data on your wounds, checking your vitals, and communicating all this information directly to your PDA or tablet, your doctor, or possibly your stretchable brain implant. I tell ya, it’s coming, so keep your apps up to date!

Source: factcoexist.com

 

4 thoughts on “The Future is Here: The Smart Bandage!

  1. All these advances, and yet we still can’t get a cure for the common cold. That might be on the way, though.
    Speaking of which, I heard yesterday that the US might be energy independent in the next 7 years. Care to comment?

    1. Why sure. Now I wonder, is this independence based on alternative fuels and clean energy, or does it have to do with all the Fracking going on in the US right now, or possibly a combination thereof? Granted, solar, wind and tidal harnesses are growing, but I doubt the US will shake its dependence on foreign oil anytime soon, especially with the sheer volume it currently imports from the Alberta tar sands. Peak oil is one thing, as its running out and the foreign market that still deal it (90% of which are in the Middle East) are being viewed as increasingly unreliable as allies. But there’s no way the US can satisfy its own demand for energy in less than a decade with domestic oil production or switching over to alternative methods.

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