A team of software engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a wearable device that could help address the unprecedented rates of opioid overdose-related deaths.
More than 115 people died from opioid overdoses each day in the United States in 2018. Opioid overdoses are a major health issue in the US. Opioids are a class of drugs that include the heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, like oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and many others.
This new high-tech wristband might help doctors detect the warning signs of fatal painkiller reactions.
The band is named HopeBand and can sound an alarm, flash red lights, and send out a text message alert with the wearer’s current location if it detects low blood oxygen levels.
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An early alert could provide enough time for rescue services to administer life-saving naloxone and reverse the overdose.
“Imagine having a friend who is always watching for signs of overdose; someone who understands your usage pattern and knows when to contact [someone] for help and make sure you get help,” Rashmi Kalkunte, a software engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University, told IEEE. “That’s what the HopeBand is designed to do.”
So far, the team working on the device hasn’t tested HopeBand on users, but all the lab tests showed great promises. The device will be given out for free to all the needle-exchange programmes in the US, but first, they will be sent to programmes in Pittsburgh. If they prove to work in real-world testing, the device could be sold for about $16 to $20.