Researchers develop low-cost sensor for motion monitoring

Researchers from the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Canada have developed a wearable sensor for improved monitoring and interrupting of human motion with the aim of improving wearable technology for muscle movement, heart rate and biological signals. Findings were published in Journal of Sensors and Actuators A: Physical.

Led by Homayoun Najjaran, the team of researchers began by creating a stretchable device capable of sensing human motion. The sensor, composed of infusing graphene nano-flakes into an adhesive pad, was tested for durability by stretching it to see if it was able to maintain its accuracy at 350 percent of its original size.

"We tested this sensor vigorously," said Najjaran. "Not only did it maintain its form but more importantly it retained its sensory functionality. We have further demonstrated the efficacy of GNF-Pad as a haptic technology in real-time applications by precisely replicating the human finger gestures using a three-joint robotic finger."

To further test the sensor's practicality, researchers produced three wearables includes a knee band, wristband and glove. The wristband monitored the wearer's heartbeat by sensing the pulse of the artery while the finger and knee band monitors finger gestures and muscle movement during walking, running, sitting and standing. Results found the sensor was able to produce high levels of sensitivity, selectivity and durability while also providing clinicians with a low-cost method of monitoring.

"We have introduced an easy and highly repeatable fabrication method to create a highly sensitive sensor with outstanding mechanical and electrical properties at a very low cost," said study co-author Mina Hoorfar.