wearable photoacoustic imaging watch with backpack


Researchers at the Southern University of Science and Technology have developed a high-tech watch that can capture high-resolution images of the blood vessels in the skin using photoacoustic imaging. The wearable device is a non-invasive way to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation, and can help medical personnel immediately see and check how well a person’s heart is working. The researchers also managed to make the device portable, unlike the machines used in hospitals, allowing the user to bring the high-tech watch anywhere with them.


The device is attached to a backpack that the user can also shoulder so that they can freely move around while they check their heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. For this technology, the researchers use light and sound waves to see and hear inside the body and monitor the blood vessels. They adopt a tiny laser beam delivered through a special fiber optic cable to allow for detection and recording. All of these technologies are packed inside a seven-kilogram backpack to make it much easier to carry around and use in different locations.

high-tech photoacoustic imaging watch
images courtesy of Lei Xi, Southern University of Science and Technology



using light and sound waves to look inside the body


Photoacoustic imaging can be a new way of looking inside the body using light and sound waves, taking detailed pictures of the functioning of the user’s body, especially their blood vessels. The one that the researchers at the Southern University of Science and Technology – the team comprising Lei Xi, Ting Zhang, Heng Guo, and Weizhi Qi – has a high-tech watch and a tailored light pulse that, when the latter hits structures inside the body, the pulse is absorbed and produces a faint sound wave. The light pulse also doubles as a microphone and picks up these tiny sounds created by light, allowing the medical personnel to potentially listen to any heart-related troubles of the user. To save these findings for further examination, medical personnel can take pictures of the blood vessels using the same photoacoustic imaging watch.

high-tech photoacoustic imaging watch
researchers have developed a high-tech photoacoustic imaging watch that can capture images of the blood vessels



The researchers have already tested their high-tech watch and photoacoustic imaging device to volunteers. They evaluated the function of the watch and the system’s capacity to detect blood flow changes over an extended time under different conditions, and the tests showed that the system is usable and compact and stable enough to allow free movement. As of publishing the story, the researchers are working on creating a new system that can use even a smaller laser source with a higher repetition rate. This can allow the system to be more compact and lighter with improved safety and resolution. 

high-tech photoacoustic imaging watch
the technology is packed inside a 7-kilogram backpack to make it easier to carry it around anywhere



developing photoacoustic imaging high-tech watch


After their published study, the researchers are also looking into stabilizing the fiber-coupled optical path so that it can be used over extended periods of time and under more intense conditions such as running and jumping. They’re planning to develop more kinds of lights for their photoacoustic imaging with a high-tech watch. These different hues can help medical personnel see how much oxygen is in the user’s blood, how fast their blood is flowing, how many blood vessels they have, the size of their blood vessels, and more. ‘Given the rapid development of modern laser diode technology and electronic information technology, it should be entirely feasible to develop a more advanced and intelligent photoacoustic watch that doesn’t require a backpack,’ said Xi.

high-tech photoacoustic imaging watch
close-up view of the blood vessels sample



project info:


name: Photoacoustic imaging watch

institution: Southern University of Science and Technology

researchers: Lei Xi, Ting Zhang, Heng Guo, Weizhi Qi