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Smart Face Mask to Enable Wireless Cough Monitoring of COPD Patients

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 24 Jun 2022
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Image: An infrared image of a person wearing a smart mask concept (Photo courtesy of University of Missouri)
Image: An infrared image of a person wearing a smart mask concept (Photo courtesy of University of Missouri)

For years, automotive companies have developed intelligent sensors to provide real-time monitoring of a vehicle’s health, including engine oil pressure, tire pressure and air-fuel mixture. Together, these sensors can provide an early warning system for a driver to identify a potential problem before it may need to be repaired. Now, in a similar vein biologically, researchers have demonstrated different ways to improve wearable bioelectronic devices and materials to provide better real-time monitoring of a person’s health, including vital signs.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the idea of mask-wearing to the forefront of many people’s minds. In response, one focus of researchers at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO, USA) has been to develop breathable soft bioelectronics. The team came up with the idea for integrating bioelectronics in a breathable face mask, which can monitor someone’s physiological status based on the nature of the person’s cough. In addition to monitoring someone’s physiological status, the mask can also help identify proper mask wearing in public places using a bioelectronic sensor. Currently, the mask does not have the capability to provide automatic reminders, but the researchers aim to also develop that function in the future.

“Different respiratory problems lead to different cough frequencies and degrees,” said Zheng Yan, an assistant professor in the MU College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. “Taking chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as an example, the frequency of cough in the early morning is higher than that in the daytime and night. Our smart face mask can effectively monitor cough frequencies, which may assist physicians with knowing disease development and providing timely, customized interventions.”

Related Links:
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