Revolutionizing disease and environmental detection with portable optoacoustic sensing

Why do we need this new technology - sPROPT?

Why do we need new sensing technologies in Medicine?

Disease detection today occurs at a late stage, after the manifestation of clinical symptoms, although early disease detection is the best possible first step for efficient intervention and therapy of many diseases. Modern Healthcare needs direct frequent monitoring of critical information for leading to early detection or home-based monitoring of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Most medial measurements for this kind of information either are invasive (blood-samples) or require specialized instrumentation only available in hospitals and clinics, such as MRIs. Today, portable optical sensors, such as FitBit or Apple, measure simple information that is not appropriate for complex diagnostics. Desired critical information remains elusive with such optical sensors. This is because optical sensors cannot accurately disentangle depth, absorption and scattering contributions, neither in frequency nor in time-domain modes, due to the diffuse nature of the light measured.

Why do we need new sensing methods in environmental sciences?

Clean air is pivotal for public health as poor air quality is associated with a series of diseases, especially of the respiratory system, including asthma or lung cancer. The spectrum of air pollutants is broad and includes greenhouse gases and other particles. Transport sector, energy production, and industry use engines that are one of the main sources of gaseous and particulate emissions that deteriorate the air quality.

Current devices that can measure different air pollutants are available, e.g. Portable Emission Measuring Systems (PEMS) or aetholometers. These devices come with major drawbacks, they are bulky, expensive, cannot measure multiple gases and particulates simultaneously, do not offer a broad characterization profile of emissions and environmental pollutants, or require correction algorithms for different aerosols. Especially, portable detection of emissions is similarly problematic or even not possible.

Sensing Methods

Today’s markets mostly consider conventional optical methods. However, conventional optical sensing hits a major roadblock when measuring below the surface (needed for medical use) and in scattering (turbid) media, such as tissue, murky fluids, foggy media, food, exhaust lines, atmospheric fields, because scattering, absorption and depth contributions are convolved, making the measurements unreliable. Thus, we cannot use this sensing methods for applications considering turbid media, like disease detection or environmental measurements. 

Therefore, we need accessible, inexpensive and non-invasive sensory and data management systems.