The patch sends ultrasonic impulses into the human body and can report heart problems.
The patch was created at the University of San Diego, California by scientists lead by Professor Sheng Xu. It's made up of a thin sheet of polymer with built-in ultrasound transducers embedded inside. The patch is worn either on the neck or chest. The patch currently needs to be connected to a power supply, although it will be made self-contained sometime in the future.
The transducers inside the polymer patch are organised into a 12 x 12 mm grid, which transmits ultrasound wave pulses and, at the same time, produces an ultrasound beam that scans the entire body. The ultrasound beam can be pointed at different angles to explore other body areas without re-attaching the patch.
The ultrasound beam travels about 14cm under the skin, passes through body tissue and major blood vessels, echoes off the red blood cells, and then returns to the patch. By analysing the frequency of the echo signal, many different conclusions can be drawn concerning the functioning of a patient's heart. Tests have shown that the ultrasound patch is just as effective as the handheld transducers utilised by doctors in clinics.
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