A new pain relief patch developed by engineers from King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia may revolutionize the way athletes and arthritis patients get relief for their joint pain. Dubbed a “smart patch,” this unique design works with smartphone technology to control the exact temperature that the material applies to the skin.
The smart patch uses a special material incorporating flexible copper springs that conduct power to small heating pads. An app on the phone controls the power and the heat output to create a custom relief patch for any user.
The engineers at KAU hope their patch could eventually be a replacement for the 4.2 billion chemical relief patches sold for pain relief each year, but they are still working out certain elements of the prototype. Specifically, they want to add even more flexible electronic components to replace the hardware and battery in their current model.
Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, an associate professor of electrical engineering at KAU, said when the patch finally reaches its commercial state, it should sell for about $4 and reach manufacturing levels of half a billion per year.