British scientists have created a new way of monitoring a person’s health – a sensor that could be implanted into the body to detect if someone is ill.

They say that the new technology will see houses, and even people, fitted with devices which can pick up changes in movements, habits, diet, weight, mood and heart rate.

The ‘digital health assistant’ sensors can use the data to detect if a person is unwell – and automatically sends an alert.

Scientists say it could detect if the user is taking the correct medication and recognise the symptoms of a stroke by monitoring unusual body movements or facial expressions.

The sensors could be installed in a variety of places including the home, clothing or jewellery – or even implanted in the body.

Elderly or vulnerable people currently rely on emergency pull cords and panic buttons to summon help if they fall, or become ill.

But the designers of the new system SPHERE – Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Environment – say it could provide automatic 24 hour care.

It is being developed by an interdisciplinary research collaboration (IRC) led by the University of Bristol and the Universities of Southampton and Reading.


Professor Ian Craddock, director of the IRC, said: ‘Families, carers, health and social services professionals involved in all stages of care will benefit from the system.

‘SPHERE will address real world challenges by developing a practical technology to monitor people’s health in the home environment, targeting health concerns such as obesity, depression, stroke, falls, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases.’

The new SPHERE implant could also monitor a patient's heart rate and send an emergency alert if they become suddenly unwell

The new SPHERE implant could also monitor a patient’s heart rate and send an emergency alert if they become suddenly unwell

William Harwin of the School of Systems Engineering at the University of Reading, said: ‘The production of ubiquitous and unobtrusive “passive sensors” is a key constituent part of this project.

‘These sensors could be embedded in clothing or jewellery, or more ambitiously implanted, possibly in association with remedial surgery.’

It is expected that once the systems have been developed enough they will be tested across the country.