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IIT Guwahati researchers develop cost-effective motion sensor for healthcare applications


IIT Guwahati researchers have successfully engineered a cost-effective, gel-based wearable device that is capable of recording motion signals and has a shelf life of more than 50 days. The organohydrogel sensor, placed on the bodies of patients in comatose states or facing similar conditions, through a wireless device and a smartphone can monitor subtle movements over an extended period. This provides healthcare professionals with invaluable insights into patient conditions so that appropriate interventions can be taken.

Stretchable wearable devices are extremely beneficial for sensing minor movements of body parts, the institute said in a statement. According to the institute, in situations where monitoring minute limb movements is crucial, such as comatose patients or similar conditions, stretchable gels are employed. However, the current gel technologies exhibit limitations in mechanical properties, lacking ultra-stretchability and self-healing abilities. Additionally, they often lose sensitivity in extreme temperature conditions.

Addressing this gap, a research group at IIT Guwahati, led by Debapratim Das, professor in the Department of Chemistry, has fabricated an organohydrogel. This innovative material exhibits exceptional stretchability (1000% at strain, sustained for over 100 cycles), self-healing capabilities, anti-freezing, conductivity, as well as outstanding mechanical strength and adhesive properties even after it is kept at −20 °C for a long time.

“Our findings reveal the gel’s remarkable biocompatibility, allowing its safe application on human skin without any side effects,” Das said in the statement.

The study is co-authored by Das, Ritvika Kushwaha, Souradeep Dey, Kanika Gupta and Biman B Mandal.

”During our practical wearable sensing tests, the sensor showed high sensitivity to detect major human joint motions such as elbow, finger and wrist bending as well as micro motions such as muscle movement around the throat during swallowing and expressions such as smiling and frowning,” said Mandal, professor in the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Guwahati. “Because of its wide environment tolerance, it can also be used under extreme conditions like sub-zero temperature during mountaineering etc.”Furthermore, the researchers fabricated a device that was connected through a smartphone via Bluetooth where signals were recorded upon deformation of the smart gel, which shows that the gel holds great promise as a wearable device.This research has been funded by the Core Research Grant (CRG) from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS).

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