Electrically conductive Belly Band monitors fetal health during pregnancy
Traditionally for monitoring fetal and uterine contractions during the latter stages of pregnancy, the patient has to visit the doctor, and even be required to hook up to a machine. But now researchers at Drexel University have developed a belly band that monitors uterine contractions and fetal heart rate in real time. This helps the patient and caretakers to keep a track of the fetal development without even visiting the hospital on a regular basis. This application of wearable technology will make the troublesome period of pregnancy hassle free and most of all non-invasive, for example during the due dates of delivery.
To make this belly band’s material Shima’s software and computerized knitting machines are used. The electrically conductive thread is knitted in a pattern across the center of the band that acts as a wireless passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. Thereafter the signal processing algorithm developed in Drexel’s Electrical and Computer Engineering labs processes any changes in the received signal which is a tell-tale sign of uterine contractions and other vital information from the fetus. The technology allows for remote monitoring of patient by the doctor and in case there is any indication of a problem the medics will be dispatched to the patient’s current location.
The belly band is currently under development at Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory in Drexel’s Expressive & Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center. This smart garment is being produced by Montgomery and Genevieve Dion, a fashion design professor in close association with Kapil Dandekar, PhD, Adam Fontecchio, PhD, and Timothy Kurzweg, PhD, researchers in the College of Engineering.
The current prototype of belly band will undergo clinical trials over the duration of summer and then if successful, it will be used extensively.