A team of scientists from the University of Surrey, UK, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, report that they have developed a new type of flexible sensor that is inexpensive yet sensitive enough to measure a patient’s breathing, heart rate, or movement, alerting doctors to any irregularities.

The sensor was created by treating everyday elastic bands with graphene. Once treated, the bands remain highly pliable, they said. Fusing this material with graphene imparts an electromechanical response upon motion such as breathing, pulse, and joint movement.

They say that it could be used to create lightweight sensor suits for vulnerable patients such as premature babies, making it possible to remotely monitor their subtle movements and alert a doctor to any worrying behaviors.