Breathe, exhale: a future bracelet that may predict asthma attacks through breath

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”175″ /]A sensor developed by a research team from Rutgers University may in future lead to wearables that predict asthma attacks. The team developed a reduced graphene oxide sensor to detect telltale biomarkers–elevated nitrite levels in exhaled breath condensate (EBC)–that mark the increased airway inflammation present in a developing asthma attack. Currently, breath has to be condensed before being sampled by the nanoelectric sensor, but the team’s goal is “to develop a device that someone with asthma or another respiratory disease can wear around their neck or on their wrist and blow into it periodically to predict the onset of an asthma attack or other problems,” according to researcher Mehdi Javanmard. This concept is far more convenient than a bulky spirometer. Beyond warning the person of an asthma attack, the technology could also be used for other obstructive lung diseases and for tracking treatment/drug effectiveness. Hat tip to Toni Bunting of TASK Ltd. FuturityMicrosystems & Nanoengineering (journal, full text)

It is good to see credible academic R&D in this area of wearables, since there have been others claiming measurement of calories, blood glucose, and hydration, that have been, or been close to, scams. We suspected the Healbe GoBe couldn’t do what it claimed in calorie and BG measurement in 2014 [TTA 26 June 14 and 24 Feb 15] after raising $1 million on Indiegogo. It’s still being marketed through various sites including Amazon for just over $200–but the reviews largely confirm that it still does not do what it claims–and more, such as sensors burning through skin. The BioRing fitness/calorie counting ring out of Sweden, which raised nearly $750,000 on (again) Indiegogo last year, was another ‘impossible device’ that like Healbe used a bio-impedance sensor to measure liquid transfer in and out of cells as an indicator of blood glucose. Indiegogo suspended it in October and returned to crowdfunders over $200,000 not yet transferred to BioRing, but the magic ring makers mysteriously disappeared along with $460,000. The crowd isn’t happy about it. Vocativ

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  1. About 25 million people in the USA live with asthma and it accounted for 1.6 million emergency rooms visits this year. Being able to predict an attack can help in preventing one. We are interested to see what sort of prototypes will be developed from this innovative asthma detection technology. There is no doubt that telemedicine and wearables are going play a big role in this technology’s future.