Swiss school builds smartphone ECG monitor

By Chris Gullo
12:00 pm
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EPFLResearchers at the Swiss university Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)'s Embedded Systems and Telecommunications Circuits lab have developed a non-invasive wireless cardiac monitor powered by a smartphone. The prototype is intended to alert potential patients and their doctors to cardiac anomalies.

The wireless body sensor network (WBSN) uses four sensors applied to the skin, as well as a radio module that attaches to the user's waist, to transmit ECG data to a smartphone app.

“This system collects very reliable and precise data, it’s equipped with a very effective noise filtering system, and it has batteries that can last for 3-4 weeks at a time,” stated EPFL professor David Atienza, head of EPFL’s Embedded Systems Lab, in an article on the EPFL website. “Above all it provides an automatic analysis and immediate transmission of data in compressed format to the doctor, preventing him or her from having to work through hours of recorded data.” In a video on the site, Atienza offered up an additional use case: The sensor can detect when a driver is falling asleep at the wheel and alert them to wake up.

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“Its size, its lightness, its ease of use, the fact that it measures continuously and remotely, which allows analysis to take place anywhere, makes this device very attractive to doctors,” stated Etienne Pruvot, a cardiologist in the Lausanne University Hospitals (CHUV) Cardiology Service.

While Pruvot believes its ease of use is attractive to physicians, will consumers really be interested in spending the entire day with four leads attached to their chests? Many heart monitoring offerings that have bubbled up in the past year have avoided going down the path of requiring users to attach multiple leads to their bodies. iPhoneECG is one such case in point.

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