The bandages are to use nano-sensors to detect wound conditions, relaying this and other patient data to doctors over 5G networks
The University of Swansea is to test 5G-powered bandages that can feed sensor data on wound conditions back to doctors in real time within the next 12 months.
The smart bandages include sensors that can detect complications such as blood clots or infections.
The programme would also collect data on patients via their smartphones, which could be configured to monitor other factors that may affect the healing process, including the patient’s activity levels and diet, the university said.
“You combine all of that intelligence so the clinician knows the performance of the specific wound at any specific time and can then tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question,” Prof Marc Clement, chairman of the university’s Institute of Life Science (ILS), told the BBC.
He said the detailed patient data that can be collected by personal wireless devices mean medicine can be fine-tuned for individuals’ needs.
3D printing techniques mean the 5G-connected smart sensors can be produced at a cost that’s affordable to the health service, Clement said.
“This is a multi-technology approach, with nanotechnology, nanoelectronics, printing and coating biochemistry all interconnecting through 5G infrastructure to allow us tomorrow and in the future to deliver health care for a wound patient that delivers better patient outcomes and better quality of life,” he stated.
The trials are to be funded under the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City programme, intended to create a 5G testing hub in the city.
The Welsh Wound Innovation Centre is also involved in the project with trials planned to make use of a pool of one million patients at the Arch wellness and innovation project in south-west Wales.
The programme aims to deliver a proven medical concept using local manufacturing technology that can be taken to a global marketplace, according to Clement.
Health nanotechnology is set to create an $8.5 billion (£6.75bn) market by 2019 as the world’s population ages, according to a recent forecast.
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