When we were in school we used rubber bands to hold things together or to shoot them at someone. Now they’re being used for way more important things. Researchers in the UK have been able to turn normal rubber bands into body motion sensors by infusing them with graphene flakes.A rubber band alone is not so high-tech, right? But when combined with Graphene, a cutting-edge wonder material it becomes a product that could make a big difference in the field of health care. Although body motion sensors already exist in different forms, they have not been widely used due to their complexity and cost of production. A team from the University of Surrey and Trinity College in Dublin have created a flexible sensor which they say is sensitive enough for medical use and inexpensive as well. The researchers believe they could be used to monitor a patient’s breathing, heart rate and movement, alerting doctors of any irregularities.
Once treated with graphene, the rubber bands remain highly elastic and can stretch to 1100 % their original length. They can also sense vibration up to 160Hz. Professor Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College, commented: “This stretchy material senses motion such as breathing, pulse and joint movement and could be used to create lightweight sensor suits for vulnerable patients such as premature babies, making it possible to remotely monitor their subtle movements and alert a doctor to any worrying behaviors”.
These sensors, once made can be used in fields other than medicine too, such as being incorporated into automotive airbag-triggering systems, robots, or performance-assessing athletic clothing. Aside from this products’ versatility, its biggest selling point is its low cost. Each device would cost virtually pennies instead of pounds or dollars making it an ideal technology for developing countries where they don’t have sufficient medically trained staff to effectively monitor and treat patients quickly. This could be a new milestone in the field of healthcare.