One day, a wearable, bioelectronic device could wirelessly transmit a person’s vital signs — potentially providing critical information for early detection of health issues such as COVID-19 or heart disease — to a healthcare provider, eliminating the need for an in-person visit while also saving lives.
The interest for wearable bioelectronics has grown in recent years, largely fueled by the growing demand for fitness trackers that can record workouts and monitor a person’s health — from heart rate to quality of sleep. Now, engineers are advancing the commercial market for wearable bioelectronics by developing a large-scale manufacturing plan for a customizable device capable of simultaneously tracking multiple vital signs such as blood pressure, heart activity, and skin hydration.
Existing wearable devices usually consist of bioelectronics supported by a flexible, solid material — typically plastic or silicone — called a substrate. These devices will optimize the material to be soft, breathable, comfortable, lightweight and waterproof. Also, in order to mass produce the bioelectronic sensors, the team is researching how to print them directly onto the supportive material using a method called mask-free inkjet printing.