Philips Blood Pressure-Sensing Underwear

 - May 19, 2008
References: technology.newscientist
Philips wants you to forget about using uncomfortable arm cuffs to monitor your blood pressure, and use their high-tech underwear instead.

Most of us have had our blood pressures monitored, some more often than others due to medical reasons. This is usually done in the doctor's office using a stethoscope and a cuff-pump device, or we've checked it ourselves at the local drugstore. Neither method is convenient nor are they portable. These methods are also not practical if blood pressure readings have to be carried out several times a day.

Philips, the electronics giant has recently filed a patent for blood-pressure sensing underpants which can be calibrated to give accurate readings whenever they are worn. The technology makes use of “pulse wave velocity” - pulse waves generated when the heart pumps which then moves through the blood circulatory system. The researchers have found pulse wave speeds correlate to blood pressure.

The built-in sensors in the waistband of the underpants detect changes in the electrical impedance of the underlying tissue whenever a pulse wave moves through. The speed or velocity of the pulse wave can then be calculated from the time it takes to travel from one sensor to another.