Woo Soo Kim, a researcher at Simon Fraser University, has designed a system that will allow small, humanoid-sensing robots to take a patient’s blood pressure with just a simple touch

Background analogy of the invention

Kim and colleagues, working with PhD student Tae-Ho Kim and a team from SFU’s Additive Manufacturing Lab, have replaced standard blood pressure procedures by replicating the folding mechanics of the leech in their creation of 3-D printable origami sensors. The leech-inspired origami (LIO) sensors can be embedded in the fingers of a humanoid-sensing robot.

His study, which is based on the intricacy of origami and inspired by the motions of nature’s leeches, is exploring how robots may carry out fundamental health care chores in specific settings, such as in distant places or where minimum physical interaction is required, such as during pandemics. The findings were published in Nature Publishing Group’s journal Flexible Electronics.


Blood pressure monitoring is an essential medical diagnostic tool for many chronic diseases and overall good health. The use of sensing robots in medical healthcare systems has substantial advantages because they can assist health care workers in monitoring patient vital signs while creating a friendly environment for those patients who may need to be isolated.
“Robotics offers a promising method to mitigate risk and improve patient care effectiveness and quality as focused remote healthcare technology,” says Kim(the inventor of this tech). The researchers plan further trials of their new process and are developing the next generation of sensors, which they hope will lead to its biomedically meaningful implementation.

How the technology works

The LIO sensors included into the robot’s fingers may be placed on the patient’s chest. Blood pressure is measured and evaluated by integrating data from electrocardiogram (ECG) and photoplethysmogram (PPG) measurements, which are acquired by sensors on each hand’s fingers.
The data from the coupled sensors may be used to create a patient’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure using established algorithms, rather than the usual cuff-based digital sphygmomanometer.
Leeches enlarge their mouths (suckers) to increase their contact area with the skin, while their bodies shrink to preparation for the pumping action required to suck the victim’s blood. During sucking, its expanded mouth is shrunk, and the body is expanded. A mechanism of this type is structurally defined as a mix of simultaneous non-auxetic and auxetic activities. Based on this process, an origami with a non-auxetic tip and auxetic bodies was created.  When the origami’s non-auxetic structure is stretched, the auxetic section shrinks under compression.  The area of the non-auxetic portion in origami grows during compression,  meaning that the nonauxetic part in origami expands. The auxetic component, on the other hand, has reduced, indicating a reduction in interior space. Furthermore, the LIO has distinguishing characteristics, such as spinning when a z-directional force is applied.

Future prospects

Kim believes that robots has the ability to “play a crucial role in the new age of remote healthcare” by providing a future platform or bridge between medical workers and distant patients.
The Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada is funding part of the research through a Discovery and Accelerator Supplement Grant (NSERC).