How Sensors Can Detect and Prevent Disease

How Sensors Can Detect and Prevent Disease

How Sensors Can Detect and Prevent Disease

Health conscious people are always on the lookout for the slightest signs of illnesses so they can nib ailments in the bud. However, many popular technologies for early disease detection, including wearables like watches and skin patches, have been known to measure the body superficially, as they would take better body measurements if they were embedded inside the body. Also, these devices are mostly powered with lithium-ion batteries, raising some concerns about their toxicity levels.

However, it is apparent that the future holds immense possibilities for mass-produced safe, implantable, disease dictating sensor devices. In this article, we present an overview of two of the most promising disease detecting devices with prospects of widespread use in the nearest future:

Implantable Biofuel-Powered Sensor Device

A multidisciplinary group of researchers at Washington State University integrated a mix of biological and electronic elements to develop an implantable sensor, powered by blood sugar, that monitors the body’s biological signal from within the body in order to detect signs of diseases early on.

The sensor comes with a biofuel cell which mines glucose from bodily fluids to power the sensor. The human blood, which is rich in glucose and lactose contents, can serve as a reliable source of fuel for biofuel cells. Hence, the sensor can be powered indefinitely so long as the body is alive and kicking.

According to the results of the studies published in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems journal, the electronic components of the implantable sensor can track down physiological and biochemical signals with clinical precision. The material makeup of the sensor is more energy efficient than the regular battery-powered sensors. The electronics are created with ultramodern design and fabrication processes that imbue them with low-energy consumption attributes. The sensors can run using just a few microwatts of power. Also, the biofuel cell does not raise toxicity concerns as the regular lithium-powered sensors do.

Also, with this sensor, there’s no need to prick a finger to test for certain diseases like diabetes.

The researchers believe that the sensor prototype will be going in for mass production in the nearest future, where it will be rolled out via the advantages of the economies of scale.


New sugar-powered sensor

A Gas-Detecting Sensor Software

A new software developed by a San Francisco firm BoydSense identifies the makeup of gaseous molecules contained in an individual’s breath in order to detect any signs of illnesses. The software, which was on exhibition at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, uses a highly complex algorithm to present readings of gas molecule contents on a mobile app.

The device dictates diseases in humans by raising a red flag when the level of endogenous volatile organic compound (VOCs) in the body becomes abnormal. Endogenous VOCs are products of the regular metabolic processes of the body, as well as diseases in the body. They circulate in the bloodstream and escape the body through breath and urine. The sensor comes with breath gas analyzers that are capable of detecting diseases such as diabetes and cancer by analyzing the contents of VOCs.

BodySence sensor

The first prototype of the BodySence sensor

With a predictive algorithm, the software can run on a smartphone’s operating system to translate the data generated from a person’s breathe into an analyses-friendly report on a mobile app to reveal the implications of the results. The creators are confident that the software’s predictive algorithm does not raise false alarms, dictating diseases with a high degree of sensitivity.

The sensor’s gas analyzers can also identify contents of gases emitted from rotten food. They can identify food items through their scents. The creators are hoping that the user-ready version of the software will be embedded in smart devices which can detect the level of freshness or rot in food items when the smartphone is placed near the food items in fridges or cupboards.

Currently, the prototype is a separate device that’s connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth. In addition to that, the final version will also come with a faster normalization time; the software takes about a minute to completely shake off the influences of the previous ‘sniffs’ or to normalize, in preparedness to make readings on another ‘sniff’. 


Both sensor devices still need to overcome some hurdles before they finally make it to mass production lines. The implantable sensors are yet to be tested in blood capillaries, and this requires regulatory approval.

There are also rooms for improvement in the area of the biofuel cell’s power output. The creators of the gas-detecting software are planning to integrate the final version of the software in smartphones, as the prototype is a standalone device that’s connected to a smart device via Bluetooth.

Nonetheless, these devices are poised to transform the way we manage our health. Want to tap into these rising technologies but don’t know how to go about that? Reach out to us today, and let’s talk strategy.

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