At one of two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers at NC State University, engineers create wearable devices that harness body heat or motion to power themselves and monitor health conditions such as asthma or diabetes.
Chancellor Randy Woodson – an asthmatic himself – says in the accompanying video that the devices can predict the onset of an asthma attack and gather data for doctors on what conditions trigger the attack.
Dean Louis Martin-Vega of the NC State College of Engineering explains that the devices rely on nano-sensors.
“That is a tremendous breakthrough,” Martin-Vega says. “What you can monitor is really almost unlimited.”
At an electronics conference in Las Vegas, an NC State team was inundated by companies that wanted to partner with the university.
“It is a very unique effort. It cuts across many disciplines – electrical and mechanical and textiles and all sorts of other areas. It’s drawn a tremendous amount of industry interest,” Martin-Vega says. “For me, the most important thing is the environment it creates for our students.”
Martin-Vega emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of work at the center.
“This center is health-monitoring devices. But it’s the confluence of many, many pieces of engineering that come together to make this happen,” he says.