COVID-19 sensor uses tech developed by Villanova professor

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Villanova University engineering professor has developed technology for a sensor that can detect whether someone may have early symptoms of COVID-19.

Moeness Amin, a signal processing engineer, is director of the Villanova College of Engineering Center for Advanced Communications.

He came up with the algorithm, or mathematical process, to get the remote monitoring system to work.

The sensor, the size of a quarter, is worn on the outside of the trachea or neck area, and is connected by way of Bluetooth technology to a smart phone.

A COVID-19 sensor uses a small electronic device glued to the neck area where it can monitor the trachea for breathing.
A COVID-19 sensor uses a small electronic device glued to the neck area where it can monitor the trachea for breathing. Photo credit Moeness Amin

He said it can yield critical data that medical professionals can use to detect the early symptoms of COVID-19.

“It can indicate whether the person has respiratory stress disorder, whether the person has abnormality in breathing,” Amin explained.

It monitors breathing sounds, not from the lungs but from the trachea, which Amin said is very rich in information.

“We can take the sound, analyze it, use signal processing and machine learning to classify the breathing status of the person,” Amin said. “Whether it’s normal, abnormal — and even if it’s abnormal, is it shallow breathing, deep breathing, hypoventilation, hyperventilation.”

Amin said, while the device is glued to the body, it won’t impede the user’s daily physical activity.

“Wearing the device does not prevent the person from sitting, standing, walking, bending, kneeling, sleeping,” he said.

Amin said hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and individuals can benefit from the technology.

He called it an early warning system – a powerful diagnostic tool - that will give doctors the data they need to launch life-saving treatments.

Amin said the device is in the final phase of clinical trials and could be ready for distribution by the end of the year.

Amin developed the technology in a partnership with RTM Vital Signs LLC, in Philadelphia.