Monitoring your health with your mobile phone

October 5, 2010
ECG signals wirelessly transmitted to an Android mobile phone via a low-power interface.

Belgian Imec, together with TASS software professionals have developed a mobile heart monitoring system that allows to view your electrocardiogram on an Android mobile phone.

The innovation is a low-power interface that transmits signals from a wireless ECG ( or heart monitoring)-sensor system to an android . With this interface, imec, Holst Centre and TASS are the first to demonstrate a complete Body Area Network (BAN) connected to a mobile phone enabling reliable long-term ambulatory monitoring of various health parameters such as cardiac performance (ECG), (EEG), (EMG), etc. The system will be demonstrated at the Wireless Health Conference in San Diego (US, October 5-7).

The aging population, combined with the increasing need for care and the rising costs of healthcare has become a challenge for our society. Mobile health, which integrates mobile computing technologies with healthcare delivery systems, will play a crucial role in solving this problem by delivering a more comfortable, more efficient and more cost-efficient healthcare.

Body Area Networks (BAN) are an essential component of mHealth. BANs are miniaturized ; consisting of lightweight, ultra low-power, nodes which continuously monitor physical and vital parameters. They provide long-term monitoring, while maintaining user mobility and comfort. For example patients who are no longer compelled to stay in a hospital could be monitored at home.

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The newly-developed low-power interface wirelessly transmits bio-signals retrieved by imec and Holst Centre’s Human++ BAN to an Android mobile phone where the data are collected, stored, processed, and sent over the internet to make them available for authorized users such as a physician. The interface is based on a standard Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) interface on Android mobile phones, enabling the integration of all the features available on Google’s operating system (SMS, e-mail and data transmission over the internet, GPS to track user location).

Moreover, the mobile phone’s hardware is extended to operate with low-power communication protocols and low-power radios, enabling long-term medical telemonitoring. As the interface is based on the Linux kernel, the system is also easily portable on other Linux-based devices, such as PDA’s or laptops. And, the system allows configuration of thresholds on the measured parameters and automatic sending of alerts such as SMS messages and e-mails based on these values.

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