As COVID-19 continues to infect more people around the world, there are still few reliable ways to spot the early onset of the disease and to monitor its symptoms in detail, particularly at a distance and while patients are at home.
Now, researchers at Northwestern University have partnered with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) to develop a tiny flexible electronic device that can track coughing, body temperature, and respiration rate continuously. The device produces a great deal of detailed data that the researchers hope to be able to process using artificial intelligence techniques. The idea is to quickly spot any changes in patient condition and to warn of particularly dangerous developments.
The device is stuck to the skin of the throat, where it stays put as the wearer performs normal activities, including sleep.
Researchers at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab have already been testing the sensor over the past two weeks on COVID-19 patients and the healthcare workers that take care of them. In total, about 25 patients are having their symptoms tracked nearly 24/7, having produced more than 1,500 hours of data that takes up more than a terabyte of space.
Here’s a B-roll video Northwestern released showing off the sensor working on the throat of a volunteer: