Chewing Gum Body Sensors Invented

February 10, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. elastic / ɪˈlæs tɪk / (adj.) – flexible and can return to its original form
Example: The doctor covered his sprained ankle with an elastic bandage.

2. vital / ˈvaɪt l / (adj.) – very important
Example: Exercise keeps vital organs, such as the heart and the brain, healthy.

3. subtle / ˈsʌt l / (adj.) – not easily noticed
Example: Her symptoms were so subtle that she didn’t notice she was sick.

4. humidity / hyuˈmɪd ɪ ti / (n.) – the moistness of the atmosphere
Example: He chose to live in a place with cold weather to avoid humidity.

5. withstand / wɪθˈstænd / (v.) – to be able to survive
Example: The patient was able to withstand the pain of the operation.


Read the text below.
Researchers discovered an elastic, attachable, and cost-efficient replacement for metal and plastic medical sensors: chewing gum sensors.

A study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces introduced body monitoring devices made from gum. These gum sensors can be connected to a medical monitor to track vital functions of the body, such as the subtle movement of the chest while breathing, and the movement of blood as it flows throughout the body. It can also detect humidity changes, which can be used in tracking breathing.

The flexible sensors created at the University of Manitoba were developed by scientists using an ordinary piece of gum. One of their members chewed it for 30 minutes. After that, they washed the gum with ethanol and left it overnight. Then, the researchers added a solution of carbon nanotubes to the gum. This gives it its sensing capability. The final step involved continuous stretching, twisting, and folding until the tubes on the gum’s surface are evenly distributed.

The researchers found that the gum sensor can withstand a highly damaging force of up to 530 percent. The tests included finger-bending and head-turning while the sensor was in place. Unlike conventional sensors that are made out of either plastic or metal, gum sensors are more elastic.

Gum sensors are one of the monitoring devices recently invented in the field of biotechnology. Other inventions include the Tech Tat, a removable tattoo that can monitor a human body’s vital functions, and a wearable device for athletes called BSXinsight.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In what situations do you think the gum sensors can be useful?
·         Would you still prefer metal and plastic sensors instead of the gum sensor? Why or why not?
Discussion B

·         What recent discoveries or inventions have impressed you the most? Why is that so?
·         Given the chance, what daily object would you turn into something more advanced? Explain your answer.

February 10, 2016