Researchers at Harvard have announced the development of a soft and non-toxic wearable sensor that can be attached to the hand. Once connected, the sensor can measure the force of a grasp and motion for the hand and fingers. One of the novel components of the sensor is a non-toxic and highly conductive liquid.
Scientist Siyi Xu, the first author of the paper describing the sensor, says that the new conductive liquid the team developed is no more dangerous than a small drop of salt water. Xu notes that the fluid is four times more conductive than previous biocompatible solutions.
The solution is made from potassium iodine, a common dietary supplement, and glycerol, which is commonly used as a food additive. After the components are mixed together, the glycerol breaks down the structure of the potassium iodine and forms potassium cations and iodine ions that make the liquid conductive.
The liquid is stable across a range of temperatures and humidity levels. Xu notes that past biocompatible sensors used sodium chloride-glycerol, but that solution makes sensor data very noisy and takes ten hours to prepare. The new solution takes 20 minutes to prepare and provides very clean data.
The sensor can be used on children born early that have early developmental disorders and highly sensitive skin. The wearable sensor can provide accurate information while getting around any sensitivity issues with the child’s hand.