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ExCITe Center’s Belly Band Project Promises Improved Real-time Care for Pregnant Women

December 1, 2012

On November 28, Drexel opened its Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center, which provides both an open work area for inter-college collaboration and a place to showcase multi-disciplinary activities and projects. Located at the University City Science Center’s 3401 Market Street building, the ExCITe Center will demonstrate how the conversion of many technologies, such as humanoid robots, video games, and digital knitting machines, can encourage innovation across multiple fields. “We seek to foster creativity, innovation, collaboration and a commitment to community. The ExCITe Center will be a place that brings all of those core values together to create real economic opportunities for our city and region as well as a significant impact in society,” said Drexel President John Fry.

The ExCITe Center has already supported several projects by providing funding and work space, including the development of a Microsoft Kinect game that helps cerebral palsy patients stay active, as well as the creation of a virtual opera experience that puts the audience in the shoes of the singers. Recently, the newest project has been underway at ExCITe’s Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab. The Lab is the multidisciplinary research initiative of Fashion Design professor Genevieve Dion and colleagues from different Drexel colleges including the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the School of Biomedical Engineering. The Lab is additionally the product of Drexel’s growing partnership with Shima Seiki, a major world leader in computerized knitting technology.

Through use of the Lab and in collaboration with researchers from both the Colleges of Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Dion’s team has created a monitoring machine for high risk pregnant women called the Belly Band. Conductive yarn is knitted onto the knitting machine to create the garment. The Belly Band is able to transmit radio signals via the conductive yarn from a pregnant woman to the patient’s physician that indicate any changes in the uterus. This invention has the potential to vastly improve care for pregnant women by monitoring their health in real-time. The project is a prime example of how the ExCITe center is prompting multidisciplinary projects for the University.

Watch a brief informal video showing the Belly Band prototype: