Opening the door of the Red Cross and signing up to give blood is easy enough, and feeling the needle go in can be all too real. But what happens to that bag of life saving elixir when it’s whisked out the door is more of a mystery.
Turns out, innovators have been transforming the way we handle, transport, examine and distribute blood over the past few months. In case you missed them, here are the latest tech solutions in the blood system.
- RFID Tracks Your Blood: In May, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first blood tracking device that uses Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID). Called the iTrace for blood sensors, it uses radio signals to streamline blood tracking and labeling, making sure the right components get to the right destination.
- Labels Your Blood: Designed to get new blood into people, new IBB Blood Transfusion Packs clearly identify blood types. As the pack fills, a large letter A, B, AB or O appears on the front. The new design won the 2012 red dot award for design concept.
- See Your Blood Cells: An iPhone 4 add-on that costs $40, the iMicroscope is medical grade and medical quality. It is powerful enough to see and analyze blood cells. Developers at the University of California-Davis are investigating added features for counting and classifying blood cells automatically.
- New or Used Gloves? You come across a pair of latex gloves, but you’re not sure if they’re new or used – do you throw them away just to be on the safe side? Not anymore. Safe Cut Surgical Gloves have tabs on the inside that rip out when gloves are removed, making new and used sets easily distinguishable.
- A Tiny Laboratory In Your Pocket: Swiss researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a device that can monitor blood without a trip to the doctor. Implanted under the skin, the device will be targeted to patients who need frequent blood workups. This means less travel, less pain, and more free time. Biosensors in the device are powered by a battery pack adhesive on the skin’s surface. They communicate wirelessly with the doctor and send alerts when the blood quality changes.
- Bioengineered Veins: We’ve mentioned this before, but researchers have actually developed bioengineered blood vessels suitable for human implants. Duke University Hospital researchers helped engineer off-the-shelf, human cell-based structures that won’t be rejected by the immune system. Talk about blood tracking and transport — making actual blood vessels is just about as up close and personal as you can get.