Device Could Help Space Travelers Stay Healthy

Visi Mobile Monitors Continuous Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Temperature

Local researchers are utilizing a device that could help average citizens who travel in space stay healthy.

 

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NASA launched its last shuttle in summer 2011 and now, private industry hopes to take over where the government agency left off.

"Space travel and being an astronaut, I think, everybody thinks of it at least once and for many of us, it's a dream," said Dr. Paddy Barrett, who is with the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

Soon, it will be a reality. Through Virgin Galactic, more than 500 people have already signed up for tickets to go to space.

However, sending the everyday citizen out of this world is much different than working with an experienced astronaut.

"They're pretty fit people," said Dr. Ravi Komatireddy. "They do a good job up there. They are athletes at the worst of times."

Komatireddy and Barrett are working to find the best way to monitor new space travelers, who are at higher risk than trained astronauts.

The Visi Mobile device may be that answer. It straps to a person's thumb and monitors continuous blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.

The researchers tested it during a zero-gravity flight in a special NASA aircraft.

"It's a lot harder than we actually thought," said Barrett.

Komatireddy added, "It's so foreign to anything that you feel obviously on Earth. We don't know all the risks involved, so this will help us from a research standpoint."

The pair are still collecting data but if all goes well, the device will be the latest leap for mankind.

The Visi Mobile was created by Sotera Wireless, which is based in Mira Mesa.