Besides being an extraordinary innovation, elastomeric flex sensors have shown unbounded versatility across a variety of product/solution spaces. One of the early adopters of this technology has been the medical industry, where the integration of flex sensor technology is being used as part of systems that remotely measure and track patient recovery. These new flex-sensor-instrumented devices have been shown to improve patient outcomes through more effective monitoring and compliance which, in turn, leads to faster, more efficacious recoveries.
Soft Flex Sensors Monitor and Track Orthopedic Recovery in Real Time
Whether it’s an instrumented knee brace or adhesive-based on-skin device, this technology can be used to accurately measure a patient’s detailed motion hundreds of times per second. This gives healthcare providers and patients a real time look at in-situ progress.
For example, an individual recovering from a Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) may use a device like the Claris Reflex, which enables medical professionals to remotely monitor post-surgical progress. This resolution allows therapists to provide helpful insights and changes to treatment plans throughout the entirety of the physical therapy process.
The Business of Remote Sensing in Healthcare
As healthcare moves to an outcome-based reimbursement model, the need for monitoring technologies that both improve patient outcomes and decrease cost is going to be more important than ever. For the use of these devices to make sense, they must be reliable, accurate and comfortable for the user and be highly reusable.
The beauty of using soft medical-grade, non-liquid silicone as a sensor medium is that it can easily conform to the contours of the human body. It is largely biocompatible, making the sensors an ideal for wearing on the body without discomfort or limiting mobility.
The Future of Soft Sensor Integrated Devices
Historically, engineers would use IMU’s for on-body sensing to determine body position but quickly found that IMUs suffer from drift and power consumption. IMUs are also sensitive to magnetic fields, which often lead to inaccuracies and require untenable amounts of power for small devices needing to last for months on a coin cell battery. At Bend Labs, our flex sensors act like artificial nerves that can directly measure an angle in one or two-axes. They are capacitive, have zero drift and measure without path dependence.
Every year technology solutions in healthcare pave the way to a better human condition. The eventuality of exponential healthcare progress will depend largely on AIs and their ability to “see” and understand our physical state. It’s for this reason soft flexible sensing technologies will play such a critical role in the future of healthcare. For more information, visit Bend Labs.