Northwestern University scientists develop wearable wireless device, tracks common symptoms of COVID-19

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- The campus may be empty and the halls hallowed, yet there is groundbreaking COVID-related work going on at Northwestern University's engineering lab.

"It's a soft-skin compatible device, it goes on the body much like a band aid," said Northwestern University Professor John Rogers.

About the size of a band-aid, Rogers helped develop a wireless device that tracks the most common symptoms of COVID-19, and it is placed right above the collarbone at the center of the neck.

"We can determine respiratory rate, capture shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing," Rogers said.

The tiny device can also track the development of fever and measure whether a patient is responding to treatments.

"We can track with detailed quantitative information their progression through various stages of the disease, how quickly they are getting better or if they are deteriorating," Rogers said.

Rogers said the device is also being used on healthcare workers to pick up early signs of the virus.

For now, the device only measures symptoms. It does not determine whether someone is positive or negative, but, Rogers said it will give doctors and researchers much-needed data on how the virus works.

So far, the device is being used by 25 workers and patients at the Northwestern Hospital ICU and the Shirley Ryan ability lab. The plan is to double that in a week.

It is simple for anyone to use. After wearing it for a 12 hour period, the waterproof device is placed on a charger where all the data is automatically downloaded and uploaded to the cloud using an iPad.

"You get a graphical representation in the form of a dashboard, how often the patient is coughing, what the heart rate is, temperature is," Rogers said.

Rogers said it is one of many tools of technology that will help directly and indirectly fight the virus.

Northwestern is partnering with Shirley Ryan Ability Lab to develop the device.
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