Wearable Technology For Expectant Mothers Wins Australian James Dyson Award

10/11/2015 4:17 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Pregnant Asian Woman In Park In Winter.

There are many challenges that come with living in rural Australia -- and quality, personalised healthcare for pregnant women is one of them.

More than half of Australia’s rural maternity units have closed over the last 15 years, with safety, cost and workforce shortages putting expectant mothers and families at risk.

Industrial Design student at at RMIT, 22 year old Sarah Heimeier created "Jana" -- a wearable technology which monitors expectant mothers and transmits data to doctors, and has won the Australian James Dyson Award for her idea.

The design features emerging technology within a personalised device that allows mothers to feel at ease, and help doctors monitor for conditions. With real-time information doctors can provide a higher quality of personalised healthcare to pregnant women living in rural areas.

Through the use of an ultrasound transducer and rare earth magnets, the mother is able to wear the device as it monitors her glucose levels and blood pressure. Her doctor is then able to assess her development as she enters information through the mobile application. Her doctor can also communicate through the app -- calling them into a hospital quickly if necessary.

How exactly does it work? A processor, transmitter, and ultrasound transducer allow Jana to monitor the body. An ultrasound transducer produces sound waves which bounce off body tissues and make echoes which the processor can derive blood pressure, glucose levels and heartbeat from. Broad band frequency is used to generate acoustic waves in the tissue to measure glucose levels.

Collected data is then forwarded to the mobile app, and recorded for both the mother and her doctor to see. The mother is able to see any fluctuations on her smartphone, whilst her doctor is can closely monitor progress and check for abnormalities.

The James Dyson Award is an international student design award run in 18 countries. The contest is open to university level students (or recent graduates) in the fields of product design, industrial design and engineering, who "design something that solves a problem.”

The Award has an international prize fund of over $AUD180, 000, with $AUD30,000 going to the winner and $AUD18,000 to their university.

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