A new type of heart beat sensor has been developed that enables medical staff to monitor the rate without the need for physical contact with the body.
According to The Engineer, electric potential sensors (EPS) have been created by researchers at Sussex University.
EPS are extremely sensitive and are able to detect the electrical output of the heart as it beats, with future projects aiming to deliver nerve signal sensors and brain activity monitors.
"For the first time we are able to detect electrical signals from the body passively, without making physical contact and in familiar environments such as the home or hospital," commented Dr Robert Prance, professor of sensor technology at the university and lead researcher on the project.
Elsewhere, the global sensor market is set to boom in 2010 after having fallen considerably last year.
The Optoelectronics, Sensors and Discretes report by IC Insight revealed that the market presently stands at $8.5 billion (£5.66 billion), but this figure is forecast to grow by 31 per cent by the end of the year.