BLOOMINGTON — Two Indiana powerhouses are working together to transform medical tools with smart technology.

Indiana University and Cook Medical, both in Bloomington, are collaborating to create smart fibers filled with tiny sensors.

Those fibers will be inside medical devices, like stents, endoscopes and catheters.

Jill Ivers, with Cook Medical, said the IU and Cook teams are developing prototypes right now.

“Where we’re at today is working very closely with the lab to make prototype fibers that fit the specifications of being able to fit inside very small implantable devices and function inside the body,” said Ivers.

Smart fibers are made using 3D printing.

The material is processed with heat to define electrical connections. The fibers are flexible, so they can be woven into medical devices or inserted into tubes.

Just like a smart watch, the nano-sensors on the fibers gather information from inside the body, where the doctor is working. This gives physicians valuable feedback to make sure the device fits the patient’s body.

The smart fiber will also be able to give signal processing on the performance of the device.

“We are working with them on developing those prototypes and doing some initial testing in the lab. And as we continue that process we’ll get closer and closer to having a functional medical device,” said Ivers.

The fibers will be developed in Indiana University’s FAMES Lab and then tested in Cook Medical’s research facilities.

It will be some time before these smart fibers are approved by the FDA, but Cook and IU are hopeful within a few years, they’ll be used by physicians and patients everywhere.