STANFORD, Calif. – A network of sensors, screens and smart devices being developed at labs around the world will extend the reach of caregivers and enable more people to manage their health at home, according to a researcher from Stanford University.
“We see this ecosystem as enabling a doctor to have continuous monitoring of a patient,” said Bryant Chu, a member of the design group in Stanford’s mechanical engineering department, where research is being done on the components that make up the bodyNET system, a four-layer ecosystem of components that includes devices and sensors that are implantable, dermal, incorporated into clothing and worn externally.
The bodyNET system’s core technology is made of electronics that can stretch and feel more like the human touch and can enable health professionals to see how a patient is feeling in real-time. The “elastronics” technology allows patients to interact with digitally networked devices and makes raw data from wearable devices more useful, Chu said.
While the idea of the bodyNET system may seem far-reaching, Chu thinks it’s something that could be a reality within the next 20 years. Before that happens, though, testing of the separate components will need to happen in controlled settings and industry concerns about privacy and security will need to be allayed, he said.
“We see a system like bodyNET as humanizing the technology rather than technology replacing us,” Chu said. “The idea of humans and technology coming together can be scary, but with a slight reframe of perspective, there’s an excitement about what could exist.”