Medical team creating high-tech glove to check blood pressure and ECG.

A cross-disciplinary team of biomedical engineers, nurses, physicians and e-health personnel are hard at work using biomedical and mobile technologies to develop the first glove-like device that will easily allow people to check their blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol, and record an ECG without blood tests.

The researchers, from Aga Khan University (AKU), hope that by monitoring these vital signs, people will be able to reduce hypertension, prevent diabetes, and decrease high cholesterol levels and thereby prevent stroke risk by 80 percent. The project is part of the Grand Challenges Canada grants competition, which supports “bold ideas with big impact on global health.”

“The detection of stroke risks means repeated doctor’s visits, and measurements, and it requires tests, technical support staff and a doctor,” commented lead researcher Dr. Ayeesha Kamran Kamal, AKU’s associate professor and stroke neurologist. “Through this device, we hope to simplify it to a single interaction and bypass complexity and access.”

The device will consist of a leather glove containing photodiodes that convert light into current or voltage as well as blood pressure and electrocardiography sensors all integrated with a central circuit. The measurements will be readable by patients in the form of color codes that will tell them whether they are at low, high or moderate risk regardless of numeracy and literacy skills.

Dr. Kamal explained that the glove “will be linked to a cellphone and the data may be transferred to a physician, if required. The cellphone can provide audio feedback, as well. This will be aligned to the latest guidelines and also be translated to adapt easily to local languages.”

In the competition, a total of 83 creative, out-of-the-box ideas were selected through independent peer review from 451 applications. These included projects submitted by social entrepreneurs, private sector companies, non-government organizations, and university researchers.

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