Scientists have developed a smart ring that can detect invisible threats to the wearer, scanning for explosives and nerve-agents that may be present in vapour or liquid form.
The technology is designed to be affordable and portable, to provide rapid alerts of any possible security threats nearby.
Tests on the device so far have revealed it’s highly sensitive to a number of hazardous chemicals, and the researcher say it could soon prove useful in defense and security environments.
Scientists have developed a smart ring that can detect invisible threats to the wearer, scanning for explosives and nerve-agents that may be present in vapour or liquid form. The technology is designed to be affordable and portable
HOW DEADLY NERVE AGENTS WORK
Nerve agents such as sarin and VX fall in the Organophosphates (OPs) family, and block the activity of AChE (acetylcholinesterase), preventing the muscles from relaxing.
This can lead to paralysis, and even death.
Along with sarin and VX nerve agents, several pesticides are known to have this effect, according to research from the Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) project from the National Institutes of Health.
Antidotes to organophosphates exposure rely on breaking the bond between the AchE and the OP.
This will allow the enzyme to reactivate.
But, current countermeasures work too slowly to be effective, and are not practical for large-scale exposure.
The new ring, developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, contains an electrochemical sensor cap and a circuit board.
This allows it to sniff out chemical and biological threats, and transmit the data to a smartphone or laptop.
According to the researchers, the demand for wearable sensors has been steadily on the rise in recent years, with global analyst firm CCS insight estimating it will be a $34 billion industry by 2020.
Currently, wearables come in a number of non-invasive forms, from wristbands and headbands to tattoos.
But, equipping such devices with advanced sensors would be a costly process, making them difficult to produce, the researchers explain.
By putting the sensors in a ring, however, they say they’ve managed to create a device that’s both wearable and affordable.
The ring can perform voltammetry and chronoamperometric analyses, and uses interchangeable screen-printed sensing electrodes that can quickly detect different chemicals.
The team tested their prototype against explosives and organophosphate nerve agents
‘The attractive performance of the ring-based electro-chemical platform can rapidly alert the wearers about possible security threats in their surrounding environment,’ the authors wrote in the study, published to the journal ACS Sensors.
‘This platform could be readily reconfigured and expanded for decentralized analyses of other hazardous environmental or security agents in connection to different printable transducer inks and bioreceptors.’
The new ring, developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, contains an electrochemical sensor cap and a circuit board. This allows it to sniff out chemical and biological threats, and transmit the data to a smartphone or laptop
Organophosphates are highly toxic, and can prevent the muscles from relaxing – ultimately leading to paralysis and even death.
Nerve agents such as sarin fall within this family, but several pesticides are also known to have these effects.
The new device is able to detect and warn the wearer of organophosphate nerve agents, according to the researchers.
According to the study, ‘Such ability of the miniaturized wearable sensor ring platform to simultaneously detect multiple chemical threats in both liquid and vapour phrases and alert the wearer of such hazards offers considerable promise for meeting the demands of diverse defense and security scenarios.’