MIT researchers make stamp-size stickers that can scan the human body

MIT professor Xuanhe Zhao said the development could open a new era of wearable imaging.

August 02, 2022 12:04 pm | Updated 12:39 pm IST

The sticker measures about two square centimetres across, and is three millimetres thick

The sticker measures about two square centimetres across, and is three millimetres thick | Photo Credit: MIT

MIT researchers have developed small stickers that can capture images of heart, lungs, and other internal organs using ultrasound technology.

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“We believe we’ve opened a new era of wearable imaging: With a few patches on your body, you could see your internal organs,” Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, said in a statement.

The stamp-sized device sticks to the skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of the internal organs for 48 hours.

The sticker measures about two square centimetres across, and is three millimetres thick — about the area of a postage stamp, according to the release.

The researchers applied the stickers on volunteers, which produced live, high-resolution images of major blood vessels and deeper organs like the heart and lungs. The images captured changes in these underlying organs as volunteers performed various activities, including sitting, standing, jogging, lifting weights, and biking.

Currently, ultrasound imaging needs bulky and specialised equipment available only in hospitals and doctors’ offices. This new device might make the technology as wearable and accessible as buying Band-Aids at the pharmacy, according to the researchers.

The team is working to make the stickers function wirelessly. They are also developing software algorithms based on artificial intelligence which can better interpret and diagnose the stickers’ images. 

“We envision a few patches adhered to different locations on the body, and the patches would communicate with your cellphone, where AI algorithms would analyze the images on demand,” Zhao said.

The ultrasound stickers could be used not only to monitor various internal organs, but also the progression of tumours, and the development of a foetus in the womb, Zhao added.

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