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Heart Sends Status Updates To Google Smart Phones

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Heart Sends Status Updates To Google Smart Phones

Human ++BAN monitors your heart using Google Android smart phones…

Dutch organization IMEC has demonstrated a new type of Body Area Network, the Human++ BAN platform, which allows cardiac patients to monitor themselves and transmit data to their doctor using a cell-phone.

The system provides a user friendly, and technologically viable solution to alert cardiac patients when their heart-rate starts to climb too high – a situation typically rectified with a remedial shock from an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

The BAM system converts IMEC’s ultra-low-power electrocardiogram sensors into wireless nodes than can transmit data to a hub – the patient’s cell phone. From there the patient can monitor themselves in real time, and share this information with their doctor.

The additional software needed to instantly receive and process the information in real time comes in the form of an SD memory card/dongle – a peripheral accepted by most modern-day smart phones. The software is compatible with the Google Android platform.

In the current design the ECG electrodes are housed in a necklace that contains the transmitter and battery. The next version hops to improve on the battery-life and portability of the sensors.

Julien Penders, Program Manager Body Area Networks at IMEC, who developed the system, says ‘it can work with other medical sensors such as electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor neurological conditions or electromyograms to detect neuromuscular diseases.’ [New Scientist]

And although the system was primarily designed to help such conditions, its makers say that it could potentially be used by ‘people at risk of developing medical problems, or by fitness enthusiasts and athletes who want to keep tabs on their physiological processes during training.’ [New Scientist]

IMEC’s Human++ platform is not the first BAN, however its compatibility makes it more readily available than previous versions.

IMEC chose the nRF24L01+ radio designed by Nordic Semiconductor in Oslo, Norway, over Bluetooth technology because of its low power consumption.

Penders explained: “The problem with Bluetooth is that it will increase the power consumption on the sensor side,” [New Scientist]

Nordic’s radio technology let IMEC’s sensor run non-stop, transmitting data every 100 milliseconds, for up to seven days per charge – ‘A Bluetooth system would barely last a day’ Penders said. [New Scientist]

With approximately 18 million people in the UK living with chronic disease, a telehealth monitoring system that works in conjunction with popular mobile devices could be easily adopted by sufferers.


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  1. Duncan Graham-Rowe: Body organs can send status updates to your cellphone. New Scientist, 10/08/2010.
  2. Duncan Graham-Rowe: Body Organs Can Send Status Updates To Your Cellphone. Gizmodo, 10/10/2010.

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