Researchers Just Created An Unbelievable “Smart” Bandage

December 11th 2015

Diana Crandall

It sounds like science fiction, but researchers at MIT are working to develop a real-life, “smart” electronic bandage that can be applied to nearly any part of the body to deliver medicine, monitor vital signs of the healing process, and help doctors better understand a patient's condition.

What is a "smart" bandage?

The bandage is a malleable hydrogel that works to mimic skin. The hydrogel was developed by Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor at MIT, according to SlashGear.

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Zhao discussed the technology in a YouTube video (embedded below), explaining that while most electronics are hard and dry, like an iPhone, this bandage is “wet,” a counter-intuitive characteristic for a piece of technology.

Zhao explains "Smart" Bandaid

“We and many other groups have developed very tough and robust hydrogels that can mimic the physiological and mechanical properties of human bodies,” Zhao said. “In addition, this year, we developed a method to bond various devices of electronic material on hydrogels to form extremely robust adhesive between the electronic material and the hydrogel matrix.”

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Zhao Explains "Smart" BandAid

What does the smart bandage do?

When the sensors embedded in the hydrogel sense a change in temperature, Zhao explained in the video, the smart bandage sends drugs to the area in need of treatment.

Zhao Explains Smart BandAid

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This can be particularly helpful for people in need of ongoing care for issues such as burns, diabetic ulcers, and bed sores, Live Science notes.

Zhao Explains Smart BandAids

These types of “smart bandages” can also communicate back to a medical professional to let them know whether or not a wound is healing.

What does the future look like?

Zhao explained in the video that he and other researchers are developing hydrogels that can be embedded below the surface of the skin.

"We are working on hydrogel matrices and coatings for implantable devices such as glucose sensors," Zhao told the Daily Dot.

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When will patients get to see smart bandages in action? Hopefully, within the next five to ten years, according to Live Science.

Watch Zhao explain the "smart" bandage in full below.