Most of us have our blood pressure checked whenever we visit the doctor for a physical, but high blood pressure—aka hypertension—can lead to serious medical conditions like a stroke or a heart attacks if left for too long. So a company called STBL Medical Research AG is adapting a pressure-sensitive fiber into a continuous blood pressure monitoring watch that will replace the cumbersome inflatable cuffs typically used by doctors.
Originally developed by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology—or the EMPA for short—the piezo-resistive fibers that make up the watch's band are able to detect subtle changes in the contact pressure against the wearer's skin, allowing the device to keep track of their blood pressure and pulse. And it does so without having to inflate a cuff and awkwardly strangle the wearer's arm.
At the moment the watch-sized monitor is undergoing clinical trials, and its creators are optimistic that in the near future they'll be able to produce a version for medical use that's far cheaper than the blood pressure monitors in use today. And eventually even a slimmer, cheaper consumer version for those who are fanatical about monitoring their health.