ITHACA, NY – Scientists at Cornell University have developed a method for gathering vital signs with “tag” devices that use radar-like technology.
“If this is an emergency room, everybody that comes in can wear these tags or can simply put tags in their front pockets, and everybody’s vital signs can be monitored at the same time,” said Edwin Kan, who developed the tag system, in a statement. “I’ll know exactly which person each of the vital signs belongs to.”
The system of radio-frequency signals and microchip tags can gather blood pressure, heart rate and breath rate by emitting radio waves that bounce off the body and internal organs and are then detected by an electronic reader that gathers the data from a location elsewhere in the room.
Kan said the system works like radar but integrates near-field coherent sensing, which is better at directing electromagnetic signals into body tissue, allowing the tags to measure internal body movement such as a heart as it beats or blood as it pulses under skin. Because each tag has a unique identification code it transmits with its signal, up to 200 people can be monitored simultaneously using just one central reader.
The signal is as accurate as an electrocardiogram or a blood-pressure cuff and could also be used to measure bowel movement, eye movement and other internal mechanical motions produced by the body, Kan said.
Kan’s research team is also working with Cornell’s Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, who have demonstrated a way to embroider the tags directly onto clothing using fibers coated with nanoparticles.