SYM-10: Flexible and Wearable Technologies

HIGHLY FLEXIBLE AND WEARABLE TACTILE SENSORS FOR REAL-TIME HEALTHCARE MONITORING

Joo Chuan Yeo1,2, Zhiping Wang3, Chwee Teck Lim1

1National University of Singapore, Singapore;
2Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, A*STAR, Singapore;
3Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, Singapore

Real-time healthcare monitoring enables continuous snapshots of the patient’s health condition This provides clinicians a more informed overview of patient’s disease state and recovery progress Besides providing reliable data, these sensors have to be nonobtrusive and imperceptible to the user In other words, these sensors should be lightweight, highly deformable, flexible, conformable, stretchable, and stable over a wide range of pressures, so as to match the physical properties of the skin It also requires to be sensitive to very low pressures corresponding to the physiological signals Applications include vital parameters monitoring (e g pulse rate, heart rate, blood pressure), rehabilitation tracking progress (e g finger movement, grip strength), tactile sensing (e g object grasping, surface texture), and gait monitoring (e g foot pressure, gait analysis) Unfortunately, many conventional sensors are rigid, bulky, and limited in sensing range, rendering them undesirable for these body sensing applications Therefore, the research and development of flexible and wearable physical sensors open many possibilities in healthcare and biomedical technologies To this end, our group has successfully developed a novel flexible microfluidic liquid-based tactile sensor that is simple and cost-effective to produce The sensor is fabricated using a unique combination of soft silicone rubber substrate and conductive fluid Specifically, a thin micro-patterned flexible silicone rubber is created through soft lithography techniques Conductive fluids were then injected into the enclosed microfluidic channels as the pressure sensing fluid Essentially, the conductive fluid is displaced in proportion to the mechanical forces exerted by the user, which corresponded to a change in its electrical resistance The electrical signals are transmitted in real-time via a customized wireless module attached to the sensor By selecting an appropriate silicone elastomer and conductive fluid, we are able to adjust the device sensitivity, specificity, material hardness, viscoelasticity and stretchability to suit different applications

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