Support through "BRIDGE Discovery"

’ProTex’: Highly sensitive portable sensors use light to measure oxy

’ProTex’: Highly sensitive portable sensors use light to measure oxygen saturation in the blood. Image: Empa.

Portable sensors that prevent injuries to skin and tissue should allow a patient to lie for an extended period of time: With this project, researchers from Empa and the University of Bern were successful in the current call for proposals for BRIDGE funding from the SNF and Innosuisse.

With the BRIDGE funding offer, the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF and the Swiss Agency for Innovation Promotion Innosuisse are supporting projects that impress with their scientific excellence, a clear implementation strategy and economic and social potential. An application from Empa and the University of Berne was accepted in the current call for proposals. Ursula Wolf, Professor at the Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (IKIM), together with Luciano Boesel from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and Guido Piai from the Interstate University of Applied Sciences NTB, is being funded as part of "BRIDGE Discovery". The "ProTex" project will receive a total of around CHF 2 million.

Smart sensors

The research team around the "ProTex" project is developing textile, "smart" sensors that prevent the occurrence of pressure injuries. Pressure injuries or ulcers of the skin and underlying tissue occur when the oxygen supply to the skin and underlying tissue is disturbed by pressure in persons with paraplegia who cannot move well and bedridden patients. The treatment is complex and expensive. "This makes pressure injuries a serious health problem," says Ursula Wolf. It is therefore all the more important not to let them arise in the first place.

The ProTex sensors can be integrated into clothing such as underwear or stockings and continuously measure the pressure and oxygen saturation of the skin and underlying tissue. When the oxygen content drops and the sensors detect the risk of bedsores, they trigger an alarm signal. The person can be moved and repositioned. "Our sensors represent a new approach to portable sensors - and are also an important step towards ’smart’ clothing," says Wolf. Empa is contributing the optical fibers required for the realization of textile sensors. The NTB provides miniaturized interfaces to the optical fibers, lightweight and portable electronics and the necessary digital signal processing. "None of us could carry out the project alone," says Luciano Boesel of Empa. "Together we have the expertise in materials, optics, electronics, medicine and technology.

Here you’ll find the original press release of the University of Bern.