This is our time: A smart ‘skin’ that monitors your health.

Healthy society

Healthcare is under pressure in our society. This concerns quality, cost, and sufficient staff. At TNO, we’re working on technological innovations that address these issues. Shavini Stuart-Wijesuriya, wearables researcher at TNO, talks passionately about one of our latest innovations: the development of smart electronic ‘skin’ for health monitoring.

We need a different approach

Chronic diseases, growing elderly population, new infections and sedentary lifestyle put healthcare significantly under strain. A different approach, in which innovation can play a key role to support decision-making at an earlier time-frame is desired. With partners and spin-off companies, TNO is working on the future of healthcare, such as innovative medical wearables.

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'Compared to a smartwatch, a medical wearable provides possibilities for more detailed continuous information able to support clinical decision making.'

Shavini Stuart-Wijesuriya

Researcher wearables at TNO

Medical wearable: different from a smartwatch

'A medical wearable is a patch that collects data about the condition or health of your body. Compared to a smartwatch, a medical wearable provides possibilities for more detailed continuous information able to support clinical decision making.'

'The challenge in creating such medical wearables is within the balance of user perception for comfort in comparison increased wear time in daily life.'

'Wearables can be of added value at home or in hospital. In both places fewer wires improve quality of life for patients. With the ever growing possibilities within electronics and sensor development, the use of hybrid printed electronics enables more conformable, wireless and versatile monitoring systems.'

'In summary, we’re developing medical wearables that are invisible, practical, and wearable. This could be a smart shirt or plaster the limitless possibilities fuel imagination that can be realised.'

Development by TNO

'In our work on wearables, we focus on how to collect information suitable for the hospital: breathing, temperature, oxygen, and heart function. Digital health tools can help provide insight into the healing process of wounds, for example. Or you can monitor a baby's health in the womb using ultrasound techniques.'

'TNO's strength is that we make technology suitable for the market. This is why we involve doctors and specialists at an early stage. In doing so, it’s important to find out the question behind the question. Doctors will tend to say ‘yes’ when you ask if they need a digital tool, but it's essential to know what the real need is. A wearable for healthcare professionals is not the same as a wearable used by Defence for a special operation in the Arctic. We immerse ourselves in the relevant area.'

'At TNO, we therefore work within a team from different disciplines on research and development, and bring in appropriate specialists when needed. We’re also working with the various business units within TNO to make the wearable specifically applicable.'

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'A wearable should be comfortable for everyone to wear. It should feel like a second skin.'

Shavini Stuart-Wijesuriya

Researcher wearables at TNO

The challenge of wearables

'Every wearable has various sensors that retrieve information from your body. For that purpose, the tiny device needs energy and data storage. In performing its task, it must remain accurate even if the wearer moves, for example turning over in bed or sweating while exercising. And it should be comfortable for everyone to wear, like a second skin.'

'What’s so incredibly cool is that at TNO we have so much knowledge and so many disciplines under one roof! For every challenge relating to a wearable, we can involve a colleague. From printed electronics or battery power to data storage or design.'

Entering the market

'At TNO, we don’t stop at research and development. TNO makes innovations usable in practice. Therefore, in addition to healthcare professionals, we always work within consortia and with partners in the market.'

With TNO’s Tech Transfer programme, we bring innovations to market faster by setting up new companies. AIKON Health is an example of such a spin-off. Thiru Kanagasabapathi, CEO of AIKON Health, tells you more about it >.

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Get involved in this 'sci-fi work' and become a time setter

'I always loved science fiction series as a child and now I'm in them myself, but for real! It's so rewarding to be able to say later on: ‘We contributed to that!’ If you want to learn something, you certainly can at TNO.'

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