Future Technology

Design Process




Saving Lives One Breath At A Time

One of the reasons that so many children are being hospitalized and an unacceptable number are dying from asthma is that unfortunately there is no advanced technology to help alert children and their caretakers of a possible asthma attack. Regular monitoring of an asthmatic child’s lung function is extremely important, and the monitoring method most prescribed involves the use of peak flow meters. Peak flow meters are hand–held devices that can measure a child’s ability to push air out of their lungs when they blow forcefully into the meter.  Although measurements from peak flow meters can signal a looming asthma attack, the problem is that children under six are too young to properly use peak flow meters, and many children over six find them a nuisance to carry around and therefore do not use them routinely.

Some medical professionals have recommended the use of pulse oximeters that measure the percentage of hemoglobin in the blood saturated with oxygen as another means of managing asthma.  This technology is impractical for several reasons.  First of all, many oximeters are not portable.  For a pulse oximeter to work properly, a probe from the pulse oximeter must be attached to a child’s finger or ear lobe and then connected to a computerized unit.  Two different wavelengths of light then come from the probe and are absorbed by the hemoglobin in the child’s blood.  The amount of light absorbed by the hemoglobin depends upon how saturated it is with oxygen.  The information is sent back to the computerized unit which computes the percentage of hemoglobin saturated with oxygen.   Secondly the pulse oximeter, costing around $1500, is impractical because it is too costly for the average person.

Home  History  Future Technology  Design Process  Breakthroughs 
Consequences  Bibliography