Smart Holograms: The smart way to monitor your health

Smart HologramChronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are often the most difficult to manage and bear with. Oftentimes, either the patients don’t have time to regularly schedule appointments with their doctors, or they feel a little tight on the budget to see one. These situations, among others, hinder their over-all control over our own health.

In Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the University of Cambridge, a team of researchers led by Ali Yesten, a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, this issue is being addressed. A recent study involved the use of holograms in medicine to monitor diseases like diabetes and other chronic conditions.

The smart hologram, Yesten says, does not mean to replace the physician or health informatics professional, but rather serve as an inexpensive and more accessible option for managing the patient’s own health. The portability and simplicity of the test is also one of the reasons why the technology attracted much attention to the medical community.

The hologram uses a hydrogel, which is a very absorbent material akin to contact lenses. The gel is impregnated with silver nanoparticles, which forms three-dimensional holograms of pre-programmed shapes in just milliseconds with stimulation by a laser pulse. When a certain compound, such as alcohol, drugs, bacteria or excessive hormones are detected in the body, these hydrogels either swell or shrink. This change in size causes the colors in the hologram to change into any other color from the spectrum.

This current innovation in holographic medicine is now being integrated into portable devices such as mobile phones which enable the patients to monitor different aspects of their health condition even if they are not in the vicinity of the hospital or the clinic. Accurate measurement of blood glucose levels and urinary tract infections in diabetic patients, in particular, are now under clinical trials in Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The smartphone-based application is expected to effectively aid in testing and monitoring diabetes, both in the home and clinical setting. It can also be used to manage other related conditions.

Currently, holographic medicine are increasingly becoming popular as part of specialized practices such as Ophthalmology, Otology and Orthopedics, among others. This technique provides non-invasive three-dimensional investigations which provides excellent field of depth.

Furthermore, Dr. Fernando da Cruz Vasconsellos, Post-Doctoral Researcher in Professor Chris Lowe’s group, and a co-author of the study points out that smart holograms are not only useful in the applications of medical practice but also in the “detection of counterfeit medicine, which is thought to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.”

Sources:

Collins, Sarah. http://www.cam.ac.uk. 22 January 2014. 6 February 2014 <http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/holographic-diagnostics-0>.

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