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This high-tech bracelet can detect opioid overdose

Photo Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Opioid overdose is a major health problem in the United States, but a new high-tech bracelet can help doctors detect the warning signs of lethal anesthetic reactions.

A group of students at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a HopeBand, a wearable bracelet that can trigger an alarm, blink repeatedly and give a text message indicating the location of the owner if he feels a really low oxygen level in the blood, IEEE reports. With the help of this high-tech bracelet, a medical professional can prescribe medication to stop overdosing before it is too late.

“Imagine a friend who is always watching for signs of an overdose; someone who understands your usage model and knows when to contact [someone] for help and make sure you get help, ”said IEEE Rashmi Calkunte, a computer program student at Carnegie Mellon University. “That's what HopeBand is for.”

Unlike other medical devices, HopeBand for Carnegie Mellon University students is an inexpensive wearable device for tracking people's health on the go. With the sponsorship of pharmaceutical consulting firm Pinney Associates, students pushed ahead with a one-hour solution that uses pulse oximetry as an overdose detector.

Pulse oximetry sensors monitor the level of oxygen in the blood through a high-tech process. They pass light through the skin, and then detect changes in the absorption of light. If the oxygen level is low due to a possible overdose, HopeBand evaluates the warning sign for 10 seconds before giving an alarm.

Although HopeBand may be promising for an overdose, the team still has to check if the device can detect warning signs on real people. Despite this problem, the team used simulated input to validate HopeBand, and the results were positive.

After testing, the team plans to distribute free opioids to HopeBands through local needle exchange programs. If this distribution step is successful, the team may start selling the commercial version of HopeBand in the range of 16 to 20 dollars in the future.

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