CPI and PolyPhotonix Develop Skin Treatment Light Blanket
The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and PolyPhotonix have worked together to develop a wearable electronic blanket that uses printed lighting to administer a phototherapy for the possible treatment of a number of skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice. The blanket could also be used for wound healing and anti-inflammatory treatments.
The light blanket uses flexible OLED lighting technology and has been designed to be home based, to deliver a precise dose of light therapy as part of a continuing treatment. To be certain of patient compliance, the treatment schedule and dosage of the light are programmable so it can be preset by doctors, not only to optimise treatment, but also to permit the treatment of a number of different conditions. The prototype is also capable of sensing and logging when the device is being worn, and records and logs the usage, providing the opportunity for a next generation healthcare device that measures disease progression, monitors infection, and can manage dosage.
The prototype was created as part of a twelve month Innovate UK feasibility study titled ‘BAMBOO’ which finished in June 2015 and sought to explore the commercial and medical potential of a light emitting fabric device for a range of phototherapy treatments. The commercialisation of such devices will not only speed up and improve the treatment of a number of skin conditions but also provides the opportunity to bring low cost, single use, disposable applications that are easy and comfortable to use to the mass market.
CPI’s role in the project was to design and print the sensor circuitry onto fabric and then integrate the circuit elements with flexible OLEDs to ensure a working prototype. Polyphotonix, who led the project, provided specialist expertise in the field of OLED lighting and medical technology applications.
The prototype incorporates into fabric printed temperature, capacitive touch and switch sensing. A number of fabric materials were tested and analysed. The fabric used in the prototype is stretchable and breathable enabling the sensors able to operate when bent around the forearm, for example. The project evaluated strain gauge sensor switching on fabric for possible applications including energy harvesting and RFID. A wide range of printable sensors were also evaluated to determine their potential to monitor disease progression and the early diagnosis of complications such as wound infections.