Researchers at Rutgers University develop wearable that can count blood cells, air particles

By Laura Lovett
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Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick claim to have come up with a new wearable that can detect blood cell counts as well as particles in the air. 

"Current wearables can measure only a handful of physical parameters such as heart rate and exercise activity," Abbas Furniturewalla, the study's lead author and a former undergraduate researcher in Rutger's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said in a statement. "The ability for a wearable device to monitor the counts of different cells in our bloodstream would take personal health monitoring to the next level.”

The research, which was recently , outlines the device design. Researchers created an arm wearable that includes a microfluidic impedance cytometer on a flexible substrate with a microfluidic biosensor.

Through a pin-prick blood sample pipetted into a standard microfluidic PDMS chip, the system is able to count blood cells quicker than the standard of care, the researcher said. The system is also able to transfer data through a circuit to process electrical signals and a micro-controller which can digitize the data and sent it to a Bluetooth module, according to a statement.  

Once the system gets the blood cell count, it is then able to transfer the data over to a doctor via a smartphone. 

The researchers said that in the future they will continue to test the platform by sampling data as it is being worn during activities. This will allow them to adjust the circuit biosensor design to lessen the effects of motion and “environmental disturbance” on the device. 

But it isn’t just blood cells that this wearable is focused on. Researchers said it is also able to count organic and inorganic particles in the air that could contribute to our health. 

"This would be really important for settings with lots of air pollutants and people want to measure the amount of tiny particles or dust they're exposed to day in and day out,” Mehdi Javanmard, senior author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering, said in a statement. "Miners, for example, could sample the environment they're in."

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