Acoustic Monitoring Body Sounds
  • Acoustic Monitoring Body Sounds

Acoustic Monitoring Body Sounds

New Acoustic Wearable Technology Monitors Body Sounds

How can we monitor the health of individuals in a very non-invasive way, without the need for physical visits to the doctor? While several solutions have already been devised, a new wearable developed by researchers at Northwestern University is strikingly unique. This innovative wearable technology listens to the sounds the human body produces, analyzes them and converts them into valuable health data. This technology has already been successfully tested.

Analysis of Body Sounds However, this wearable cannot be compared to traditional wristbands or smartwatches. Rather, albeit outwardly, it resembles a smart patch, as it is also attached to the skin. The wearable is equipped with advanced microphones that capture body sounds.

Consider sounds such as the flow of air in the lungs and trachea during breathing, or the sound of food moving through the gastrointestinal tract. The microphones are so sensitive that they can detect body sounds that are inaudible to the human ear. In addition, the wearable contains accelerometers to measure movements, such as accelerations and decelerations.

Real-time Monitoring "Currently, there are no existing methods to continuously and spatially map body sounds, either at home or in hospitals. Doctors must place traditional or digital stethoscopes on different parts of the chest and back to listen to the lungs. In Working closely with our clinical teams, we wanted to develop a new strategy for continuous real-time patient monitoring without the limitations of rigid, wired and bulky technologies,” said Northwestern's John A. Rogers, a leading expert in bioelectronics and the leader of this project.

“These devices are intended to provide highly accurate and continuous health monitoring followed by clinical decision making in clinics, hospitals or in patients requiring ventilatory support,” says Dr. Ankit Bharat, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern. This technology captures body sounds and relates them to body processes to map, for example, airflow in the lungs, changes in heart rhythm in different states, or the movement of food, gas and fluids in the patient's body.

Successful Testing in Premature Babies The first tests with these wearables have already been carried out, with special attention to vulnerable patient groups, such as premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Premature babies born before or in the earliest stages of the third trimester of pregnancy are often unable to breathe on their own. Monitoring these babies in the NICU is very important because they are at increased risk for lung problems and other breathing complications.

In studies conducted at the Montreal Children's Hospital, the acoustic wearables were placed on the babies just below the suprasternal notch at the base of the throat. The wearables successfully detected airflow and chest movements and could estimate the degree of airflow obstruction with high reliability. This allowed identification and classification of all apnea subtypes. In the video below you can hear how clearly the acoustic wearable picks up breathing sounds, even when the baby is crying.

Placement of the Wearable "By placing the wearable on the suprasternal notch, we can better detect and classify apnea, which can lead to more targeted and personalized care, better outcomes and shorter hospital stays and lower costs. If the wearable is placed on both sides of severe When sick babies are placed on the chest, the real-time feedback can immediately alert doctors to potential problems that require immediate intervention,” said Dr. Wissam Shalish, neonatologist at Montreal Children's Hospital.

During the study, the premature babies wore sensors to monitor body sounds at four locations in their abdomen. The results were consistent with measurements of intestinal motility in adults, which are currently the standard of care.