Wearable Injector Image
The prototype device added sensors to an existing injector, shown on an abdomen, and communicated to a smartphone app. (Credit: Chan et al./Scientific Reports)

A wearable device detects and reverses an opioid overdose. The device, worn on the stomach like an insulin pump, senses when a person stops breathing and moving, and injects naloxone, a lifesaving antidote that can restore respiration.

Investigators developed a wearable subcutaneous injector that safely administers medications. The team combined this injector system with sensors and developed an algorithm to detect the life-threatening pattern of respirations that occur when people experience opioid toxicity.

The pilot device includes a pair of accelerometers that measure respiration and an onboard processor that detects the halt of motion associated with breathing. The wearable system, which has received regulatory approval in the United States, activates the injector in the presence of prolonged apneic events.

The device also can transmit data about breathing rates and apneic motion to a nearby smartphone via Bluetooth.