Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University achieved a major breakthrough in wearable sensor technology in 2013. They developed sensors that can be woven into any garment, allowing doctors to monitor a patient’s vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels and temperature, in a way that is non-invasive, wireless and battery-free.

Invisible and undetectable to the wearer, these sensors are highly sensitive and can transmit their readings in real time to devices located many metres away. The traditional hospital identity bracelet could eventually be adapted to include this sensor technology, and garments could be developed for people with dementia, giving care workers a non-invasive way of monitoring their health and wellbeing. Ultimately, whether worn in the hospital or at home, this technology could represent significant potential cost-saving advantages for the NHS and could also improve patient care.

Flexible sensor can be embedded in plastic or into a bracelet for the non-invasive monitoring of diabetes.

This landmark achievement was chosen to be the 2,500,000th UK patent in recognition of the importance of its potential impact, not just in healthcare but also in other sectors. The sensor’s possible application stretches to other sectors including sport and the military.