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'Postage stamp' medical monitors described

Nov. 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM   |   Comments

CORVALLIS, Ore., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- New sophisticated sensors to monitor medical vital signs are so small and cheap they could fit onto a bandage and cost less than a quarter, U.S. engineers say.

Electrical engineers at Oregon State University have developed a new "system on a chip" sensor that could easily be manufactured in high volumes as a disposable electronic sensor with many potential applications due to its powerful performance, small size, and low cost, the university reported Friday.

"Current technology allows you to measure these body signals using bulky, power-consuming, costly instruments," OSU electrical engineering Professor Patrick Chiang said.

"What we've enabled is the integration of these large components onto a single microchip, achieving significant improvements in power consumption," Chiang said. "We can now make important biomedical measurements more portable, routine, convenient and affordable than ever before."

The new sensors are about the size and thickness of a postage stamp and could easily just be taped over the heart or at other body locations to measure vital signs, the researchers said.

"The entire field of wearable body monitors is pretty exciting," Chiang said. "By being able to dramatically reduce the size, weight and cost of these devices, it opens new possibilities in medical treatment, health care, disease prevention, weight management and other fields."

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