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Body Organs Can Send Status ­pdates to Your Cellphone


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For cardiac patients such as myself, too much excitement can be a shocking experience. If my heart rate gets too high the implanted defibrillator in my chest can think I'm having a heart attack and give me a friendly remedial shock. But such nasty surprises could soon become less of a concern for people like me – by giving our hearts their very own IP addresses.

Dutch research organisation IMEC, based in Eindhoven, this week demonstrated a new type of wireless body area network (BAN). Dubbed the Human++ BAN platform, the system converts IMEC's ultra-low-power electrocardiogram sensors into wireless nodes in a short-range network, transmitting physiological data to a hub—the patient's cellphone. From there, the readings can be forwarded to doctors via a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. They can also be displayed on the phone or sound an alarm when things are about to go wrong, giving patients like me a chance to try to slow our heart rates and avoid an unnecessary shock.

Julien Penders, who developed the system, says it can also work with other low-power medical sensors, such as electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor neurological conditions or electromyograms to detect neuromuscular diseases. Besides helping those already diagnosed with chronic conditions, BANs could be used by people at risk of developing medical problems—the so-called "worried well"—or by fitness enthusiasts and athletes who want to keep tabs on their physiological processes during training.

From New Scientist
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