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Wearable Sensors will Transform Healthcare, Security and More

Wearable Sensors will Transform Healthcare, Security and More
At the new Center for Wearable Sensors, researchers develop systems to enable a wide range of preventive-health, security and fitness applications. Top UC San Diego faculty, students and researchers work together to accelerate the pace of innovation by tackling tough research challenges and technical bottlenecks in key areas such as sensors, low-power circuits, materials, electrochemistry, bioengineering, wireless network technologies, preventive medicine, the life sciences and more.

Twenty years ago, you took your car in for repairs when it started making funny noises; that is, if you didn't find yourself stranded on the side of the road first. Today, your car is loaded with sensors that constantly monitor its "health."

Wearable sensors have the potential to do for human health what automobile sensors have done for car owners: to make unobtrusive health monitoring the norm.

Wearable sensors have the potential to do for human health what automobile sensors have done for car owners: to make unobtrusive health monitoring the norm.

Most of today's wearable health sensing technology is invasive, time consuming to use, and captures data from a single moment in time, such as when someone with diabetes pricks their finger to draw blood for a glucose test. Pregnant moms often find themselves in the hospital wired up to hulking machines to monitor fetal heart rate or contractions.

What if people in these kinds of situations could simply wear a small, unobtrusive sensor that monitors their important health data continuously, and wirelessly transmits it to the cloud for analysis and review by their physician on a computer or smartphone? The continuous monitoring would provide a much richer data set from which their physician could assess their health, and the ability to move about freely would improve the patient's quality of life.

Through the Center for Wearable Sensors, Jacobs School professors are collaborating to address these challenges and many others. The researchers are harnessing a growing body of expertise in biological and electrochemical sensing, flexible electronics, wireless technology and medical devices at UC San Diego and among its many industry and institutional partners in the region.

Wearable electronics are a hot topic in industry and research, with potential applications in healthcare, security and forensics, fitness and entertainment. The market is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2014 to more than $70 billion in 2024, according to technology consulting firm IDTechEx.

"We are bringing together the top-notch nanoengineering, bioengineering, electrical engineering and computing expertise here at UC San Diego; and we have an excellent medical school to guide us on clinical needs," said Joseph Wang, director of the Center for Wearable Sensors. "The campus is surrounded by leaders in the wireless and biotech industries, and we have close research partnerships with many institutions in the area. UC San Diego is uniquely positioned to play a major role in the digital health revolution."

The coming flood of health-monitoring data could also be a boon to researchers studying health, the origins of disease and how disease progresses in the body. Over the long term, such monitoring could serve as an alert system for impending illness for an individual, or be used to identify public health issues and epidemics by mapping indicators of infectious disease collected from individual wearable sensors.

Engineering faculty affiliated with the Center already have close working partnerships with the UC San Diego School of Medicine in order to focus on these kinds of questions. There are approximately a half dozen clinical trials and studies under way at UC San Diego looking at mobile devices, said Dr. Kevin Patrick, a professor of family and preventive medicine and a member of the new Center.

Partner With Us

Joining the Center for Wearable Sensors provides access to UC San Diego faculty, researchers, and graduate students who are transforming the field of wearable technologies.

Joseph Wang
Director, Center for Wearable Sensors
Professor and Chair, Dept. of NanoEngineering
+1 (858) 246-0128

Patrick Mercier
Assoc. Director, Center for Wearable Sensors
Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
+1 (858) 534-6026

Anne O’Donnell
Executive Director, Corporate Research Partnerships
+1 (858) 822-5963

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