Written by IEEE | March 14, 2016 | Updated: April 3, 2017
Bandages might not conjure up thoughts of innovation, but researchers at MIT want to give them a futuristic upgrade — one that takes medical technology to new heights of treatment and healing.
Medical technology has a different set of construction and function factors than the common consumer wearable. Device materials need to be compatible with human skin, sensors, drug delivery and lights. They also need to be malleable and comfortable for patients. For the smart bandage, a hydrogel that’s part water and part rubbery substance was invented to allow the bandage to stick securely to the body, while being flexible to natural body movement.
Besides enhancements to the protection that a typical bandage would offer, this prototype from MIT is complete with sensors that monitor temperature and pH levels, with the ability to administer medicine as needed. Like most wearables, the bandage also tracks data; in this case it tracks the healing process, alerting the patient and doctor when milestones or red flags pop up.
Further research and engineering are needed before this product is introduced to the market, but the smart bandage represents an exciting and innovative move for the broader world of connected consumer healthcare devices.