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This High-Tech Bracelet Can Detect Opioid Overdoses



Photo Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Opioid overdosage is a major health problem in the US, but a new high-tech bracelet can help doctors detect warning signs of a fatal painkiller reaction.

A group of Carnegie Mellon University students develop HopeBand, a wristband that can be used that can sound an alarm, blink repeatedly, and issue a text message warning with the location of the wearer if they feel very low blood oxygen levels, the IEEE reports. With this high-tech bracelet, a health care professional can provide medication to reverse overdose before it's too late.

"Imagine having friends who always pay attention to signs of overdose; someone who understands your usage patterns and knows when to contact [someone] for help and make sure you get help, "Rashmi Kalkunte, a software engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University, told IEEE. "That's what HopeBand wants to do."

Unlike other medical devices, HopeBand Carnegie Mellon University students are devices that can be worn cheaply to track people's health while traveling. With sponsors from Pinney Associates, a pharmaceutical consulting company, students move forward with a stylish watch solution that utilizes pulse oximetry as an overdose detector.

The pulse oximetry sensor tracks oxygen levels in the blood with a very sophisticated process. They illuminate LED light through the skin and then detect changes in light absorption. If the oxygen level is low due to a potential overdose, HopeBand evaluates the warning sign for 10 seconds before sounding the alarm.

Although HopeBand can promise to overdose, the team still has to validate whether the device can detect warning signs for real people. Apart from this challenge, the team has used simulation inputs to test HopeBand, and the results are positive.

After testing, the team plans to distribute HopeBands free to opioid users through a local needle exchange program. If this distribution step is successful, the team can start selling the commercial version of HopeBand between $ 16 and $ 20 in the future.

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