Researchers have developed an integrated, wearable system that monitors a user’s environment, heart rate and other physical attributes with the goal of predicting and preventing asthma attacks.
The researchers plan to begin testing the system on a larger subject population this summer.
The system, called the Health and Environmental Tracker (HET), is composed of a suite of new sensor devices and was developed by researchers from the National Science Foundation’s Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) at North Carolina State University.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma affects more than 24 million people in the United States. Asthma patients currently rely on inhalers to deal with their symptoms, which can include often-debilitating asthma attacks.
“Our goal was to design a wearable system that could track the wellness of the subjects and in particular provide the infrastructure to predict asthma attacks, so that the users could take steps to prevent them by changing their activities or environment,” said Alper Bozkurt, the principal investigator of a paper describing the work and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State.
“Preventing an attack could be as simple as going indoors or taking a break from an exercise routine,” says James Dieffenderfer, lead author of the paper and a Ph.D. student in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .
The HET system incorporates a host of novel sensing devices, which are incorporated into a wristband and a patch that adheres to the chest.
The patch includes sensors that track a patient’s movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, the amount of oxygen in the blood, skin impedance and wheezing in the…