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Photo courtesy of Larry Pribyl/Oregon State University.

Advancements of technology have made electronics smaller in size and cheaper in price — think iPods, laptops, cell phones.

And while it won’t help us listen to music or surf the web, a new inexpensive chip developed by researchers at Oregon State University may make it both cheaper and easier to monitor vital signs.

Similar medical technology exists already in today’s market but can often cost hundreds of dollars. The OSU engineers are patenting a new tiny, adhesive chip that costs less than 25 cents, is disposable and can monitor everything from sleep, atrial fibrillation and weight loss.

The technology is called “ultrawideband,” and very well could mean the end of bulky, expensive, power-consuming electronic health monitors that take up space and hurt your wallet. The researchers plan to work with private companies and move the technology into the marketplace by mid-2013.

There are no batteries, and the energy is drawn from radio frequencies via nearby cell phone towers. The information on the chip can be tethered to cell phones and the OSU team has funding to build an app and cloud monitoring for storing the data.

There are a few Silicon Valley startups already like Corventis and iRhythm breaking into the industry of health monitoring. The intersection of health/wellness and technology is certainly one to watch and especially in the Seattle area. In just the last month, we’ve covered startups like Limeade and Talyst, spoke with our medical-software engineer Geek of the Week and wrote about a mobile-based platform developed at the University of Washington that uses a microphone to measure lung functions.

Previously on GeekWire: Geek of the Week: Software engineer Jesse Johnston is making medicine smarter

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