Smart labels to transport COVID-19 vaccines at low temperature, wearable sensors that give Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis patients the ability to communicate and printed sensors to test facemasks are among the top stories this month! Catch up with our monthly digest below.

Smart labels to ensure safe transport of COVID-19 vaccines

This past month, the first COVID-19 vaccines were announced to be on their way! But some of them require a specific temperature to be transported and stored. To ensure that, smart labels made of printed sensors can be a huge help! In INNPAPER we are working towards paper-based smart labels that could detect any temperature variation. In the meantime, these other labels use liquid indicators to identify changes in the environment conditions when transporting vaccines.

Wearable sensor to help Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis patients communicate

People who live with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) suffer a progressive decline of their communication abilities until they cannot talk. There are some devices to aid speech, but they usually are bulky and uncomfortable. A group of researchers has developed a skin-like wearable that can be attached to the patient’s face and measure expressions such as a smile, an open mouth or pursed lips. This sensor in very thin and will allow patients to communicate in a natural way.  This way, they could communicate sentiments like “I love you” or “I’m hungry” with a small movement!

Communication sensor for ALS patients. ©MIT

Printed sensors to find the most effective facemasks against COVID-19

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through respiratory aerosols emitted when people talk, cough and breathe. Facemasks prevent these droplets from spreading and have become an essential tool to fight this pandemic. However, there are a lot of materials available to produce them and not all of them have the efficacy we need. This printed wearable sensor is made of transparent micro electronic fibres that can measure the amount of moisture leaked through a mask of a specific material. This way, we can determine the most effective masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19!

A flexible implant that mimics cardiac tissue to monitor heartbeat

People with arrhythmia or cardiac diseases need to have a cardiac implant to monitor their heartbeat so the doctor can track their wellbeing. However, these implants usually are too rigid, and cannot accommodate a beating heart. Now, researchers have created a flexible patch that can be placed directly in the heart and mimic cardiac tissue! This means that it is more compatible with the organ than current sensors and, unlike other soft implants, this one can collect a lot of information, from heartbeat rate to temperature, and uses spatiotemporal mapping to simultaneously collect information from multiple locations on the heart. Also, it uses the heartbeat as a power source and does not need an external battery.