A 3D-printed smartphone case designed to measure blood pressure has the potential to save lives, though it is currently unclear if the device is accurate enough in its readings.
If the technology proves to be reliable, it will help more people, especially those in developing countries, in detecting if they are at risk of heart disease.
The Smartphone Case That Measures Blood Pressure
In a study that was published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers from Michigan State University presented a 3D-printed case that can be attached to smartphones. The case comes with a button-like sensor, and when people press their finger to it, the accompanying app is able to measure their blood pressure.
The subjects who tried the device found it easy to learn how to use. The app provides users with visual feedback on the amount of pressure that the finger needs to apply before measuring blood pressure.
High blood pressure may lead to heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes. However, measuring blood pressure outside of the hospital is difficult. With a way to measure blood pressure in a portable and easy-to-use form, users will be able to check their blood pressure multiple times in a day. In addition, the attachment of the technology to a smartphone will make it more accessible to developing countries, where residents have limited access to doctors but often own smartphones.
The question now, however, is whether the system that was developed in the research is accurate enough to release reliable readings. This is because in the research, the device was tested on very few people, with most of them having normal blood pressure.
According to experts, the 3D-printed smartphone case will have to first prove that its blood pressure measurements are accurate. If the technology proves to be reliable, it may very well turn out to be a game-changer in the field of medical technology.
Wearable Technology With Medical Applications
The 3D-printed smartphone case marks the increasing interest in giving medical applications to wearable device technology, as the focus on health expands across the world.
For example, a joint study reported last month revealed that the Apple Watch and other smartwatches may potentially detect the early signs of diabetes. However, last year, a study suggested that the heart rate monitors on wearable devices may be suffering from accuracy problems.
There is even research into a smart contact lens that will allow diabetes patients to monitor their blood sugar, through the glucose levels in the person's tears.