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IIT Guwahati Researchers Develop Gel-Based Wearable Device for Patient Monitoring

Written by : Jayati Dubey

February 27, 2024

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The developed sensor exhibited high sensitivity in detecting major human joint motions in practical wearable sensing tests.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have engineered a cost-effective, gel-based wearable device capable of recording motion signals.

This Organohydrogel sensor has the potential to monitor subtle movements in patients, especially those in comatose states or facing similar conditions.

The wireless device, connected to a smartphone, allows healthcare professionals to gain valuable insights into patient conditions, enabling timely and appropriate interventions.

Flexible and wearable electronics have become instrumental in augmenting human capabilities, contributing to various applications such as artificial skin, prosthetics, wearable sensors, and bioelectronics.

In the realm of healthcare, wearable devices play a crucial role in monitoring and tracking patient movements, offering real-time data for medical professionals.

Challenges Addressed by the Organohydrogel Sensor

The development of this Organohydrogel sensor addresses several limitations associated with current gel-based technologies.

As per the researchers at IIT Guwahati, traditional gel materials often lack ultra-stretchability, self-healing abilities, and sensitivity in extreme temperature conditions. In contrast, the newly developed organohydrogel exhibits exceptional stretchability (1000% at strain, sustained for over 100 cycles), self-healing capabilities, anti-freezing properties, conductivity, and mechanical strength.

Moreover, it maintains adhesive properties even after prolonged exposure to -20 °C.

Research Methodology & Fabrication

Led by Prof Debapratim Das from the Department of Chemistry at IIT Guwahati, the research group introduced a secondary cross-linking method to enhance the mechanical properties of the gel.

Speaking about the research, Prof Das said, "We introduced a secondary cross-linking to significantly boost the mechanical properties of the gel and employed precise ratios of glycerol and water to ensure environmental tolerance from -20 to 40 °C. Furthermore, our findings reveal the gel's remarkable biocompatibility, allowing its safe application on human skin without any side effects."

The results of the research have been documented in the ACS Applied Material and Interfaces journal. Collaborating on this study were Ritvika Kushwaha, Souradeep Dey, and Kanika Gupta, along with Prof Biman B. Mandal and Prof Debapratim Das.

Application & Testing of the Wearable Sensor

The developed sensor exhibited high sensitivity in detecting major human joint motions in practical wearable sensing tests.

Speaking about its application, Prof Biman B Mandal, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati, said," 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. Because of its wide environment tolerance, it can also be used under extreme conditions like sub-zero temperature during mountaineering etc."

The researchers connected the device to a smartphone via Bluetooth, recording signals upon the deformation of the smart gel. This connectivity demonstrates the gel's potential as a wearable device for monitoring and recording various movements.

This innovative research is expected to pave the way for the development of advanced wearable electronics with applications in healthcare and beyond.

The research project received funding from the Core Research Grant (CRG) provided by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS).

With its unique properties and applications, the Organohydrogel sensor holds promise for enhancing patient monitoring, offering a glimpse into a future where flexible sensors play a vital role in healthcare and various other domains.

In another development, in December last year, IIT Guwahati entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Health Mission (NHM), Assam, and Tata Medical & Diagnostics Ltd (Tata MD) to introduce Tata MD's Healthcare Model.

This collaborative effort aims to enhance public healthcare delivery in the Kamrup district by establishing a Digital Nerve Centre.


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