NC State to Create Self-Powered and Wearable Health Monitors

Uploaded by NCState on 05.09.2012

The center that is called Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies
is a National Science Foundation Nanosystems Engineering Research Center. And the focus
of our center is to take advances in nanotechnologies that have happened over the last several years
and apply them towards addressing the problem of global health. As you know, global health
is one of the biggest challenges facing our future, and healthcare costs are staggering.
And one of the ways to control and manage this process is to provide better information
to the user and the doctor about an individual’s health. And so we are seeking in our center
to build hassle-free, comfortable, wearable health monitoring devices that provide the
user with a personal health and also at the same time the personal environmental exposure.
These systems, the unique feature of our center’s devices are that they’ll be self-powered.
The self-powering will be coming from the human body in the form of heat or motion.
And these self-powering devices will then provide long-term operation, which will then
lead to higher compliance and long lifetime measurements of different health and environmental
parameters. We expect that these devices will have a significant impact on global health,
because they will empower the patient and the doctor to transition from managing illness
to managing wellness. NC State is leading this center, but we have
strong strategic partnerships with several key institutions. One of them is Penn State
University, and another one is University of Virginia. Then we’re also partnering
with Florida International University. And we also have faculty participation from institutions
such as University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and University of Michigan. We have partnerships
with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. We’re also working with Tokyo
Institute of Technology and University of Adelaide.
Industry is really a partner that we’re going to work hand in hand to generate these
technologies. In fact, in these types of centers that NSF funds, the involvement of industry
is key. The wristband that we have in mind will allow one to monitor their physiological
parameter, such as their heart rate, their oxygen levels in the blood, their respiration
rate, along with monitoring environmental parameters such as ozone and carbon monoxide
and things like that, and it’ll allow one to directly correlate the environmental exposure
to the personal health exposure. And all this is actually being done in a self-powered manner,
which implies that there won’t be any need for the user to change or charge the batteries.
The system is automatically powered, automatically and continuously powered by the energy coming
from the human body. And so this allows for long-term monitoring. It allows for very high
user compliance. Wireless communication is the main way that is the most desired way
that information should be transmitted from the device to a local base station. A local
base station in our case could be your iPhone or your cell phone. In our center we have
activities that we have, that we’re working on, that’ll generate extremely low power
wireless radios to transmit the information. I think in general the education program that
we’re putting forth will create engineers that’ll compete in the globally, in a globally
competitive society in the area of healthcare. And the intersection of engineering and biology,
which is where we are, the center resides will allow us to create engineers that will
really be the innovators in the future global health society.