Current wearable technologies strive to incorporate more medical functionalities in wearable devices for tracking health conditions and providing information for timely medical treatments. Beyond tracking of a wearer’s physical activities and basic vital signs, the advancement of wearable healthcare devices aspires to continuously monitor health parameters, such as cardiovascular indicators. To properly monitor cardiovascular health, the wearables should accurately measure blood pressure in real-time. However, current devices on the market are not validated for continuous monitoring of blood pressure at a clinical level. To develop wearable healthcare devices such applications, they must be validated by considering various parameters, such as the effects of varying skin properties. Being located between the blood vessel and the wearable device, the skin can affect the sensor readings of the device. The primary goal of this study is to investigate the effect of skin property on the radial pulse measurements. To this end, a range of artificial vein-inserted skin samples with varying properties is fabricated using Magneto-Rheological Elastomers (MRE), materials whose mechanical properties can be altered by external magnetic fields. The samples include layers to simulate the structure of skin and a silicone vein for the pulse to pass through. Note that they are not intended to represent real human skin-vein properties but created to vary a range of stiffness properties to carry out the study. Experiments are performed using a cam system capable of generating realistic human pulse waveforms to pass through the samples. During the indentation testing, the sample is compressed using a dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA) to record experienced surface pressure, allowing the pulse patterns to be studied. Various samples are used to probe the effects of base resin hardness, iron content, and magnetic field. A pressure sensor incorporated in the cam simulator is used to benchmark the internal pulse pressure of the vein while the DMA indents the sample in order to note the pulse pressures being passed through the sample. Test results show that the properties of the skin influence the resulting pulse behaviors, particularly the ratio of the recorded pulse pressures from the sensor and the DMA.

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