Behold, the Asthma Vest

(Photo: Gary Meek, Georgia Tech)

This is the kind of innovative thinking that will probably help solve the asthma puzzle. Do you remember that movie Toys with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack? The one about the general who takes over the surreal toy factory? The plot was kind of all over the place, but parts of the movie were fun to look at. In one scene, Robin Williams walks into a meeting wearing a prototype for a sound jacket–the jacket let out all sorts of bells, whistles, and honks, depending on how he moved his arms and torso.

This vest reminds me of that.

Georgia Tech researchers created the vest that holds air-monitoring sensors. The scientists are trying to determine if, after an asthma sufferer wears the vest awhile, they can go back and evaluate the sensor data from right before the test subject’s flares. Those sensors measure 7 airborne substances/possible triggers:

1. Formaldehyde
2. Carbon dioxide
3. Ozone
4. Nitrogen dioxide
5. Temperature
6. Relative humidity
7. Volatile organic compounds

The vest also uses a filter to trap particulate matter for evaluation and holds a peak flow meter. With the all the data collected by the vest, scientists hope to better pinpoint environmental triggers. If you go to the Georgia Tech press release in the link above, you can even read about a real-life example: with data from the vest, researchers discovered garage exhaust and gasoline fumes leaking into the house of one of the study’s volunteers.

Apparently, the scientists have a practical application in mind for the vest. They hope to increase the system’s sensitivity and test the current vest on asthmatic children to figure out their trigger exposures at home, school, and play areas.

No word on the ages of children they hope to study, but I’d put my money on third graders like AG, give or take a year. I just can’t imagine terribly accurate data from, say, a kindergartener like my other daughter. She’d be the kid who takes the vest off and throws it in her backpack as soon as she got to school, rather than let it interfere with playground time.

Or maybe that’s just my kid?

66 responses to “Behold, the Asthma Vest”

  1. Asthmagirl says:

    Fascinating! I wonder if they’ll let adults take a spin in it?
    I’d put money on number seven!

  2. Amy says:

    Cool, huh?

    I was wondering that myself–maybe they’re starting with kids first b/c kids are less likely to figure out triggers at school on their own?

  3. Asthmagirl says:

    That and when air quality changes, you often don’t know what the cuprit is. I don’t have an asthma kid, but it’s got to be challenging to figure out what changed in ‘air quality’ to cause the difficulty…

  4. でもメンバーが自分でつけてかわいくなった、気持ち悪くない、違和感ないと思ってるなら別につけてても構わないだろう

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