Graphene Flagship partner ICFO, based in Barcelona, Spain is developing graphene-based prototypes that aim to turn mobile phones into life saving devices. The first of these will allow users to monitor their level of exposure to sunlight through a UV sensor. Designed as a flexible, transparent and disposable patch, it connects to a mobile device and alerts the user once he or she has reached a defined threshold of sun exposure.
Using the same core technology as the UV patch, a fitness band is being developed to measure heart rate, hydration, oxygen saturation, breathing rate, and temperature, while monitoring the user when he or she is exercising, for example. However, the fitness band does more than simply measure physical activity. Consider the following scenario. A person is trekking in the remote amazon jungle with limited access to water. By measuring the skin hydration of their body with the fitness band, the user can optimize water intake, thereby preventing dehydration. Similarly, an explorer hiking to the peak of mount Everest could use the band to accurately monitor oxygen saturation in blood. The high altitude can severely effect oxygen saturation in the body. Using the band, the hiker could monitor these levels to emit a warning if oxygen saturation in the blood decreases drastically below a certain level.
Two other light-based graphene technologies include the world's smallest single pixel spectrometer and a graphene-enabled hyperspectral image sensor, both with broadband capabilities beyond what was once perceived to be possible only with the use of costly and bulky photodetection systems. By enabling spectroscopy in such small dimensions, consumers could now be equipped with tools that previously were only available to highly specialized laboratories. From the detection of counterfeit drugs to the identification of harmful substances within a product that we use, or food that we eat, compact, low-cost spectrometers could become an indispensable accessory of our everyday life.
The graphene-based camera sensor built into a smart phone camera, allows phones to see more than what's visible to the human eye. This technology would allow users in the supermarket, for example, to hold the camera to fruit and infer which is the freshest piece. Or, in a more extreme example, the camera could be used for driving in dangerously dense fog by providing augmented outlines of surrounding vehicles on the windscreen.