A flexible low cost wireless sensor for newborn babies has won the inaugural spinoff prize from science journal Nature
Sibel Health in Illinois, a spinoff from Northwestern University in Washington state, beat four finalists at a virtual event in Darmstadt, Germany, organised by European pharma company Merck. A total of 44 medical and pharmaceutical spinoff companies had been selected for the competition.
The Sibel wireless sensor technology is a spinout from the lab of John Rogers, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Neurology Surgery and director of Northwestern’s Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics.
The sensor includes electrocardiogram electrodes, a red LED for measuring blood oxygen and a Bluetooth wireless transmitter. These are all mounted on a flexible printed circuit board that can be folded to make it small enough to fit onto the leg of a newborn baby. Layers of silicone gel above and below the circuit board isolate the electronics and the device is enclosed in a flexible plastic. A hydrogel provides conductivity to the skin, rather than requiring an adhesive for a sensor patch, and the the power comes from a small battery or via a wireless link to avoid cables.
After testing the technology on babies in the United States, the wireless sensor has been deployed in hospitals in Ghana, India, Kenya, and Zambia. Sibel Health will use the €30,000 ($34,000) prize to donate monitoring devices to University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.
“The judges were impressed by the potential global impact that Sibel Health’s technology has, and their clear plans to scale it up,” said Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature and member of the judging panel. “It is especially exciting that Sibel Health’s technology is intended to be affordable in a wide range of settings and speaks for a patient group that does not itself have a voice."
"This work has been a truly collaborative effort,”