Imperial College London soft sensor image

Imperial College London bioengineers have discovered a way to create stretchy and squeezy soft sensing devices by bonding rubber to electrical components, which could help patients in rehabilitation scenarios.

The sensors can fit around body parts or can be squeezed in hands, and could be used in a wide range of healthcare scenarios. For instance, a sensor in the form of a squeeze ball could be used to monitor the rehabilitation of patients with hand injuries or neurological disorders.

Imperial College London hopes its new method will facilitate the creation of affordable, reliable and portable soft sensors that can be used to monitor people’s health in their own homes.

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Imperial College London soft sensor imagePreviously, similar sensors were difficult to bring to market because they could not easily be integrated with the electronic components needed to gather, process and send the data the sensor collects. Now, Imperial College London has found a way to bond the stretchy and squeezy force-sensitive soft materials to electrical components.

First Author Michael Kasimatis, from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, said: “We hope this method will allow us to make low-cost soft sensors that are reliable and portable, that can be used to monitor people’s health in their own homes.

“Such sensors could be coupled with a mobile device, such as a smartphone, so that the data they generate can be easily processed and stored on the cloud, which is important for applications in digital healthcare.”

The university team has also demonstrated how their bonding method can resist the strains of stretching and tested it out in a few prototype sensors that could be used in healthcare and rehabilitation, such as a wearable breathing monitor, a leg band for exercise monitoring and a squeezy ball for monitoring hand rehabilitation.

Now, the Imperial College London team seeks partners and funders to help translate and advance the technology.

To see the sensors in action, watch the short video below:

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