Someday, the thread holding your skin and tissues together after a surgical suture could beam info about your wound straight to your doctor. A team of Tufts University engineers have created smart threads made out of various materials, from cotton to synthetics, by dipping them into physical and chemical sensing compounds. They can sense pressure, stress, strain, temperature, pH and glucose levels, among other diagnostic data. The smart suture on your body can send those info wirelessly to medical professionals’ phones or computers, so they can monitor how you’re healing and see if the wound is infected.
Unlike rigid implantable devices, engineers can use these threads to make smart devices with complex shapes that can, for instance, follow the contours of a specific organ. They can also be used to make smart bandages or to make clothes with built-in health monitors and other high-tech capabilities. The team still needs to do more tests for long-term biocompatibility before hospitals start stocking up on their high-tech threads. For now, you can read more about the current state of their creation on Microsystems & Nanoengineering.