Cockrell researchers design disposable patches to monitor vital signs

Kahlil Said

Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering have developed a new method to produce disposable health patches that monitor the wearer’s vital signs. The new method will reduce creation process time and increase efficiency of production, according to researchers who developed the technology.

Nanshu Lu, assistant professor of the Cockrell School of Engineering led the group in their effort to construct these disposable health monitoring devices.

These health patches have the ability to pick up and transmit a person’s hydration, heart rate, muscle movement, mental activity and body temperature. The team’s manufacturing method aims to mass produce the patches — designed to be used once and discarded — and incorporate them into epidermal electronics.  

“One of the most attractive aspects of epidermal electronics is their ability to be disposable,” Lu said. “If you can make them inexpensively, then people will be able to use them more frequently.”

The breakthrough method is a “cut and paste” method that reduces production time from a few days to less than half an hour.  Lu said the researchers hope the new production method will replace existing practices.

Wayne Penebaker, first-year law student, said patenting the product and its manufacturing process is necessary to protect the idea.

“As the invention catches more attention and publicity, others might be tempted to invent a similar product,” Penebaker said. “By having a patent done, the group can focus on forwarding the project without having to worry about outside parties getting involved.”

Biology sophomore Daniel Jeffries said the engineering school’s production of a health monitoring patch is exciting and impressive.

“It’s a great thing to see our colleagues from Cockrell working on this project with the professors,” Jeffries said. “This type of student-faculty interaction is what brings about great things from students, like this health patch.”

Jeffries said the new method is important for the progression of the product.

“Developing a new method to maximize efficiency and cut out the wastefulness of the old method will help the team of engineers go forward with this project,” Jeffries said.