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Stillbirths Can Be Avoided With A New Wearable Motion Sensor

A new wearable motion sensor for pregnant women will revolutionize how we assess the health of unborn babies.

November 15, 2019
Lia Herman

The existing wearable motion sensors for pregnant women on the market have sizable flaws. Stevens Institute of Technology researchers have developed an upgrade in technology, which will make monitoring unborn babies safe and easy. Putting this device on the market is in the works currently. 

The State of Current Wearable Motion Sensors

The wearable motion sensors available on the market at the moment have some setbacks. Their batteries are short lasted. The equipment is expensive and requires a professional for use. The sensor can also be bulky and weight around 11 pounds, as if pregnant women need to carry any extra weight. Ultrasound monitors also pose a risk to fetuses if used under long duration, because of how it heats tissue. 

The New and Improved

Stevens Institute of Technology has designed and tested a wearable motion detector that is non-invasive to the mother and safe for the fetus. Stevens has re-utilized technology used to orient the vertical and horizontal position of smartphones. The technology allows the device to record the vibrations through the mother’s abdomen caused by the fetus’ heartbeat or kicks. The sensor of course can better hear the heartbeat and movements of the mother most distinctly, but the team at Stevens has solved this problem by isolating the sound of the fetus’ heartbeat with combined signals from three separate sensors, and algorithms. 

The upgrade of technology has obvious benefits. The device is potentially the most accurate sensor available. It is a fifth-of-an-inch long, weighs virtually nothing, and includes a 3-volt battery that lasts over 24 hours. Stevens’ motion sensor is also in no way putting the fetus at risk. It is a passive device that simply detects vibrations. 

What This Means for the Future 

This leap in technology is promising for the parents who are at risk of delivering stillbirths. The new wearable motion sensor has the potential to reduce around 2.6 million stillbirths per year worldwide. Women can continuously wear the sensor in her last several weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth usually occurs following a change in a fetus’ heartbeat and movement. The device will detect when a fetus has been compromised and alert the pregnant woman when immediate medical attention is necessary.

A woman wearing a sweater, forming a heart over her pregnant stomach with her hands
This new device means you no longer have to worry about missing a clue that something is wrong. The sensor will let you know!

This device is also our chance to objectively measure fetal movement. This is currently only assessed by asking the mother to count how many kicks she feels. Our analysis of fetus health will develop beyond anything currently available, thanks to the collected and combined data of the fetus’ movement and heart-rate.

The wearable sensor uses commercially available sensors at this time. The future of this product is hoped to be patented and marketed as a custom-built device. 

The wellbeing of fetuses will be better monitored and understood with Stevens’ wearable motion sensor, so stillbirths can drop in numbers worldwide. Hopefully they will become widely available for mothers everywhere.


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