The Future of Smart Medical Diagnosis

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A new smart textile was developed by University of California (UCLA) researchers, it is made of nanomagnets and yarn and can diagnose the human body with the same accuracy as medical-grade devices used in hospitals.

When the patch is applied to a body it can monitor functions ranging from breathing rate to muscle movement and heart spikes, and it will allow doctors to quickly diagnose any health issue.

You might ask yourselves- wait, aren’t smartwatches already doing this? Well, while wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches do give you an idea of your health, the information they provide is not enough for a complete diagnosis that a doctor needs to treat any condition.

The smart patch, which is about 5 cm in size, can replace bulky devices and make medical diagnosis easy, accessible, and affordable.

So how does it work?

According to Interesting Engineering, the textile is made of silver-coated yarn stitched on a nanomagnet-filled rubber patch. The working mechanism of the patch is based on two concepts; the magnetoelastic effect (when magnetic stress changes a material’s magnetic properties) and electromagnetic induction (when a change in the magnetic field gives rise to electric current).

A practical example of this can be a man who had a minor accident while cycling and his leg muscles were injured. The mechanical force resulting from the injury will deform the magnetic field inside the patch on his leg. This change will produce electrical signals containing information about the body’s damage. All this information will be quickly available on a mobile app to the doctor who is going to treat the injured person.

By using the patch the doctors can know for example to what degree the injured person can safely bend his legs or how much force his legs can withstand during the recovery phase.

In addition to being stretchable, durable, and waterproof, the patch will also likely be extremely affordable. The researchers claim that a single patch made from their smart textile should cost less than $3.

“Another highlight of the device is its self-powering properties. The ability to convert biomechanical force to electricity means the device is also a generator. This eliminates the need for bulky, heavy, and rigid battery packs usually needed in wearable electronic designs,” said Jun Chen, a senior author and assistant professor of bioengineering at UCLA.

This patch might be the affordable and useful future of medicine and first aid, but it still needs a lot of optimization. researchers are currently working towards making it lighter, better, and more suitable for human use.

The study was published in the journal Matter on June 27, and this information was provided by Interesting Engineering.