A group of researchers from the Imperial College London have invented a new health tracking sensor for pets that could monitor their vital signs through their fur or even clothing.
The sensor could detect vital signs like heart and breathing rates. This would largely help owners keep track of their pets’ health and for veterinarians monitor the animals’ surgery without any need for shaving. It could also improve the work of military dogs when working to detect bombs and missing persons.
“Wearables are expected to play a major role in monitoring health and detecting diseases early. Our stretchy, flexible invention heralds a whole new type of sensor that can track the health of animals and humans alike over fur or clothing,” said Dr. Firat Guder, lead author from Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering.
The research on the sensors has been published today in Advanced Functional Materials.
According to the study, the device is made of a silicone-water composite material that has a microphone that picks up sound waves. It is flexible enough that could tightly mould to the shape of the fur, clothing or body part that it is placed on.
“The sensor works like a watery stethoscope, filling any gaps between it and its subject so that no air bubbles get in and dampen the sound,” said first author Yasin Cotur.
Aside from health tracking, the device could help sniffer dogs’ findings be turned into a measurable data.
The sensors have been tested only on dogs and humans, but the researchers said they would try to use it to other types of pets, and even horses and livestock.
“The next step is to validate our system further with animals, primarily focusing on sniffer dogs and then horses and livestock later on,” Yasin said.