BENGALURU: A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed sensors which constantly monitor temperatures of newborn babies and communicates to doctors’ smartphones.
The system has a temperature sensor that is attached to the newborn with a belt. The sensor constantly monitors the core body temperature and communicates the readings to a doctor’s smartphone or computer. The transfer of data from the sensor to the smartphone happens via Bluetooth Low Energy, a technology that consumes substantially less power than Bluetooth.
With this, the sensor battery runs longer and the possible harmful effects of radiation on the newborn are reduced. The device alerts the doctor when the body temperature drops below a critical level. Doctors are also alerted when the device is removed from the newborn.
The system is being developed in collaboration with St John’s Research Institute and St John’s Hospital, Bengaluru. The project is jointly led by Prof Bharadwaj of IISc and Prof Prem Mony of St John’s Research Institute and St John’s Hospital.
Newborns are extremely sensitive. Their normal body temperature is 370 C, and if it drops by half a degree Celsius, they develop hypothermia, a condition which could lead to irregular breathing, slow heart rate, low blood sugar levels, and, in severe cases, even death.
This condition is especially dangerous in premature babies as they are born with below normal weight and under-developed heat circulation mechanisms.
In rural India, where the access to reliable medical facilities is limited, something as simple as measuring the body temperature becomes a challenge. This invention from IISc researchers can be a boon for rural communities.
Team Wants to Take it to Villages
This device is undergoing testing in St John’s Hospital and has shown promising results. Apart from the temperature, other parameters like pulse, rate of respiration and oxygen content in blood are crucial factors to monitor. The researchers are developing systems to wirelessly monitor these too. After seeing satisfactory results in the hospital, the team now wants to take the device to the villages. “We intend to focus on some of the villages on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, where such medical care facilities are lacking,” says Prof Amrutur.