Do you itch? A wearable sensor can measure the severity of monitoring how often you scratch.
Itching is associated with many diseases and can even be debilitating in some cases. And then there is the chronic itch, really difficult to diagnose because there is no objective way to measure what the personal perception of itching is.
now Steve Xu of Northwestern University in Illinois and his colleagues they created a flexible and waterproof sensor for this. It attaches to the back of a person's hand, measures the movements of the scratcher and even collects the sound waves generated by the nails on the skin.
The gesture of scratching is the same, whether it is on the skin or in the air. Our sensor can tell the difference between the two, something that systems already out there are absolutely unable to do.
A smart bandage
The team tested the sensor for itching in a group of two men and nine women, aged 4 to 24, all suffering from eczema. It is an intensely annoying condition, and it leads to sleep problems chronic in about 60% of those affected.
Xu calls this anti-itch device a “smart bandage,” and that's a good description. The researcher says it can be worn for seven days before needing to be recharged. He uses a machine learning algorithm to determine when people scratch, trained on 10 healthy men and women.
The research team compared the performance of the trained algorithm with infrared camera recordings that captured participants scratching at night while wearing the sensors, and found that itch ratings were 99% accurate.
A small, invaluable help against itching (and what it can entail)
Patients do not even have to go to the hospital, because it is wireless and all information will be transmitted directly to the doctor's computer. And the patient is at home, so he behaves more naturally than in the hospitalQin Liu
This device will be especially useful as a diagnostic tool for young children who can't express themselves well, he says Qin Liu of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Missouri.