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“Medical imaging is really only a snapshot diagnosis,” says MIT engineering professor Xuanhe Zhao. By contrast, continuously gathered ultrasonography data could help progressively monitor the lungs of a COVID patient, for example. In July, Zhao and a team of researchers introduced a stamp-sized, reusable ultrasound sticker that adheres for up to 48 hours. Rather than relying on conductive goop traditionally smeared directly on the skin, the device features a material innovation: an enclosed layer of Jell-O-like hydrogel. Unlike stretchy existing ultrasound wearables, which sometimes produce distorted images, the new device’s stiff transducer array can record high-resolution video of deep internal organs (e.g. heart, lungs) over a two-day period. It could become commercially available to hospitals in two to three years.

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