NWU investigators develop throat-wearing clothing that can provide early warnings about COVID-19 patients
The ongoing epidemic of COVID-19 is leading to major industrial changes, but the development of long-term solutions that discuss the future where what we need to do to reduce the impact of the new coronavirus seems to be a good place to spend time and effort. New projects such as these from Northwestern University researchers working with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago that have led to wear that can provide early warnings to COVID-19 patients are a good example of that kind of work.
The ongoing epidemic of COVID-19 is leading to major industrial changes, but the development of long-term solutions that discuss the future where what we need to do to reduce the impact of the new coronavirus seems to be a good place to spend time and effort. New projects such as these from Northwestern University researchers working with Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago that have led to wear that can provide early warnings to COVID-19 patients are a good example of that kind of work.
The dressing is designed to be worn down the throat, and is already used by about 25 people, who provide initial information about its effectiveness in home and clinic surveillance. The computer systems included cough and respiratory monitoring, and provided you with a set of algorithms developed by the research team that could identify potential early symptoms of COVID-19, and potential signs that the infection was progressively dangerous and required more advanced care.
The gadget is designed to be worn day and night, and provides continuous data transmission. This has the advantage of providing insight as it is found, immediately, instead of relying on standard interventions, or waiting when the symptoms are clear enough for a person to need additional help, where the early stage of intervention is often over. The dress actually looks like a small bandage the size of a postage stamp, and can monitor not only the sounds of coughing and sneezing, but also chest movements, heart rate, body temperature and respiratory rate.
It is based on what health professionals have generally labeled as the most common early symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and trouble breathing. The “notch suprasternal,” which is the technical term for the throat area where the wearer lives, “is where air flow occurs near the skin” through the body’s respiratory tract, according to Northwest researcher John A. Rogers who led the device’s development team.
This hardware can be useful in many ways: First, it is an important tool for advanced health workers, giving them what will be an early warning sign of any future illness, so they can avoid infecting their colleagues and getting the treatment they need as effectively as possible. Second, it can be used by those who have already been diagnosed with COVID-19, to provide important insight into the course of the infection, and where it may be detrimental. Third, it can also be used to tell medical scientists what works, how and how, with live information from clinical and home-based clinical studies.
The device is also easy to manufacture, the team said, and they can do so at hundreds of times a week, without having to rely heavily on outside suppliers. That is a great advantage for any Hardware that may need to be used with volume to deal with a problem. Also, people can wear it almost indiscriminately, and it is very easy to use both clinics and patients.
There are other projects in the works to see how biometric monitoring devices, including the Oura ring, and the Kinsa thermometer, can help contain the epidemic. Researchers in this field have completed an engineering firm called Sonica to oversee the development of their device, and will now work with various agencies (including BARDA-funded) to ship it to multiple locations, and see if it can produce more widely used wearables.