Its name may conjure up gadgets from science fiction movies, but BodyNeT is a body area sensor network developed by researchers from Stanford University and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to monitor physiological signals.
Stretchable sensors that conform to skin encapsulate screen-printed metallic-ink sensing electronics and flexible radio-frequency identification (RFID) antennas. The devices are assembled without batteries or rigid components, and are powered by RFID energy harvested from a receiver, which is also worn by the user. The receiver, which is itself battery-powered, uses Bluetooth to periodically transmit data from the skin sensors to a smartphone, computer or other system.
Placed on a test subject's wrist and abdomen, the BodyNeT components were demonstrated to accurately measure pulse and rate of respiration by detecting the expansion and contraction of skin. Sensors applied to elbows and knees tracked limb movement by measuring the tightening or relaxation of the skin every time the corresponding muscle flexed.
With additional refinements, the technology may find use in the non-disruptive monitoring of patients with sleep disorders or heart conditions.