Coronavirus update: New sensor used for stroke patients could help spot symptoms earlier

Coronavirus update: New sensor used for stroke patients could help spot symptoms earlier


A new device which is placed at the top of a person’s chest and tracks symptoms has been developed. The sensor sticks sense the nature, duration and time of coughs, checking for the onset and progression of COVID-19. What is the device?


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The device is a flexible wireless sensor which sits where the throat and chest meet.

It works by picking up coughing and breathing problems associated with the deadly virus.

The new device was announced today and gives new hope of a device which seeks to monitor signs of coronavirus infection and the progression of the illness.

Developed in Chicago by Northwestern University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the device monitors symptoms by adhering to the skin below the suprasternal notch.

The suprasternal notch is the little well which is at based in the throat where airflow is closest to the skin and where tracheostomies are performed.

The patch is the same as sensors used to monitor speech and swallowing in stroke patients and now the same design is being used to track coughing and breathing problems in suspected COVID-19 patients.

It brings new hopes for a quicker and more accurate device used in testing for the deadly virus.

What the expert said

Professor John Rogers, director of Northwestern University’s Center on Bio-Integrated Electronics said: “We don’t use a microphone.

“There are problems with microphones with ambient noise and tremendous invasions of privacy.

“We use a high-bandwidth, tri-axis accelerometer to measure movement of the surface of the skin to capture details of breathing and coughing, not unlike a digital stethoscope.

“The patch also detects heart rate and temperature.”


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How it works

“Once a day you peel it off and place it on a wireless charger, which triggers the patch to sync its stored data with a nearby iPad.

“From there the data is uploaded to a HIPAA-compliant cloud where a proprietary AI algorithm examines it for anomalies related to COVID-19.

“The device has no external ports for power or connectivity, making it easier to disinfect.

“We use digital filtering algorithms that look for particular signatures in the data.

“We’re looking for trends, not an absolute gold standard measurement.

“At this early stage, the data is double-checked by a trained human before any indications are forwarded to medical providers.

“Twenty-five subjects have been wearing the device for two weeks so far, generating about 1,500 hours of history,” said Professor Rogers.

A lab is currently producing dozens of new patches a week and hopes to scale to hundreds of devices a week before making the patch available for volume manufacturing via license.

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