3D-printed handheld device measures patients’ vitals

27 Aug 2015

A team of engineers and physicians has developed a new, 3D-printed device that can read patients’ vitals, potentially doing away with bulky, expensive hospital hardware.

MouthLab has a mouthpiece – like something a scuba diver uses – connected to a handheld unit about the size of an old telephone receiver.

Between the two of them, the battery-powered product can read pulse rates, breathing, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure and can do a three-lead electrocardiogram.

“We see it as a ‘check-engine’ light for humans,” said the device’s lead engineer, Gene Fridman, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins Univerisity.

“It can be used by people without special training at home or in the field,” he added.

MouthLab 3D Printing

3D printing, the answer to everything

The prototype uses WiFi to send the readings to a computer for doctors to look at in detail, meaning numerous pieces of kit that you usually see in a hospital ward could be rendered pretty redundant.

Fridmann, though, said he expects the device may be able to detect early signs of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, or avoid unnecessary ambulance trips and emergency room visits when a patient’s vital signs are good.

“Our final version will be smaller, more ergonomic, more user-friendly and faster. Our goal is to obtain all vital signs in under 10 seconds,” he said.

The research is published here.

There’s plenty of medtech creations coming about thanks, in part, to the cheap, fast and open source nature of 3D printing.

For example, only yesterday we spoke with the people behind the Biopen, a device that hopes to one day allow surgeons to ‘draw’ stem cells onto injured body parts, healing humans in a way you could never have dreamed of.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic