Three students from Poland have won the prestigious James Dyson Award for design for developing a smart sensor for dressings that indicates how well a patient’s wound is healing.
The SmartHEAL device is a dressing that monitors the condition of chronic wounds and can detect infection without being removed and disrupting the tissue. Experts say the most common mistake in wound healing is changing the dressing too often, which can lead to severe illness or death.
“Every time you take off the band-aid dressing, you’re introducing new pathogens, you risk infections, you disrupt the tissue, slowing the healing process and most importantly, it’s very uncomfortable for the patients. It’s painful,” says Ph.D. student Tomasz Raczynski who, with Dominik Baraniecki and Piotr Walter developed the product. “With SmartHeal, you can see beneath the dressing without taking it off.”
SmartHEAL reveals a key piece of data—the pH level of a wound—that can tell them how a wound is healing.
Each dressing has an electronic pH monitor printed on fabric and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) antenna which can communicate with a mobile phone or tablet placed near it.
The team says the system they have built can be mass-produced with current textile industry processes at a cost of just a few cents each.