Printed tech is coming to wearables, and it has the potential to drastically change the way we interact with medication and health monitoring. PARC’s printable tech department along with design and consultancy company Smart Design, have developed a vision design for a Band-Aid-esque patch that is able to monitor health or deliver medication, changing the way we approach these essential parts of our lives.
Taking medication is an everyday part of many people’s lives, and often times that medication needs to be taken at fairly specific times throughout the day to be effective. However, many people aren’t simply waiting around all day, twiddling their thumbs until it is time for the next dose. In short, life gets in the way, and it can be easy to forget. With PARC and Smart Design’s plans for these patches, pharmacies could print patches for their patients with their prescribed medicine inside, that delivers it according to the programmed time schedule. This removes human error that can affect treatment plans, creating a more reliable system for doctor’s to observe results and base further treatment on.
Besides treatment, these patches have huge potential for health monitoring and diagnostics, similar to what has begun to be used in other wearable devices. Since the patch is worn constantly, doctors would be able to observe the patient’s condition outside of the hospital or clinic, and observe hard data in relation to other environmental factors that may have not been observed otherwise. For example, a doctor would be to observe if a patient has arrhythmia by observing heartrate and ECG changes throughout the day, including while the patient sleeps. Furthermore, the two uses of the patches can be used in combination with one another to deliver more personalized medication and treatment. For a patient with diabetes, current personal insulin systems distribute medication only deliver at set intervals, but fail to account for blood sugar levels. This patch would be able to be closely linked to a person’s needs, delivering medication as needed, creating a much more precise system.