Academic Minute Podcast

Rahim Esfandyar-Pour, University of California, Irvine – A Health Monitoring Wearable Operates Without a Battery

Removing batteries from wearable tech can open it up to more people.

Rahim Esfandyar-Pour, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine, explores how to do so.

Rahim Esfandyar-Pour received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2010 and 2014. He is currently an assistant professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. He is also directing the Integrated NanoBioelectronics Innovation Lab. His multidisciplinary team applies innovative engineering solutions to address major challenges in modern life science. The team’s current research activity focuses on Nanobioelectronics & Nanomaterials for soft and wearable electronics, Nanodevices, Nanobio-integrated technologies & materials for hybrid electronics-3D-tissues, and smart bioelectronics systems for personalized healthcare & energy applications.

A Health Monitoring Wearable Operates Without a Battery

Wearable technology is some of the most widely used devices and has since become a vital part of monitoring users’ health. Because of the increasing popularity, developers have started to create novel devices to monitor consumers’ health, such as heart rate, pluses, blood pressure, oxygen level and more.

While these wearables have many positive aspects, the price and battery life make them inaccessible for many. Knowing how important health monitoring watches are, my team and I set out to research and create a wearable that would provide users with critical health data without worrying about the device’s battery life.

We accomplished our goal by using 3D-printed nanomaterials on flexible substrates to enable real-time and wireless monitoring of vital signs. To make sure our prototype solved the battery life issue, we made a two-mode device.

In one mode, self-powering is through the use of nanogenerators that produce voltage through mechanical thumping or pressure, simply by tapping into the nanogenerators. In the other mode, wireless powering is by holding a smartphone near the device. Once the phone is near the prototype, it exchanges the data/power to/from the phone automatically.

Due to the nanogenerators, highly sensitive pressure sensors, and multifunctional circuitry, the device is able to monitor and deliver health information anytime, anywhere.

The prototype’s battery-free, wireless, on-demand health monitoring features, combined with the low-cost materials, has the potential to help both customers and first responders during emergencies. Our prototype has the potential to disrupt the wearable technology industry and allow technology and healthcare finally be accessible to all.


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