Few would disagree that in the coming years biometric sensors and biosensors combined with body area networks will create a host of new applications and services that will lead to more effective remote monitoring. Those sensors aren't for everyone, however. Premature infants, for example, have very sensitive, fragile skin, which makes attaching sensors a painful experience. GE Global Research announced today a potential solution.
The research and development arm of the conglomerate announced that its scientists had transformed a common and widely available GE sensor, currently in-use for home security, into an "intelligent wireless medical sensing platform". The new sensor is powered by processing algorithms that classify different types of movement and can also help caregivers closely monitor a patient's breathing and heart rate even though it's not in physical contact with the skin.
"We have essentially built a more sophisticated brain for an existing GE sensor that can tell whether someone is moving or motionless and whether an individual is breathing or not breathing," said Jeffrey Ashe, an electrical engineer at GE Global Research and the Principal Investigator on the sensing project in a written statement. "One of the most promising applications of this new technology could be in neonatal infant health monitoring. We have seen considerable interest from the medical community in having this type of wireless sensing capability to monitor the well-being of infants under intensive care... the technology... [could also lead to] new applications in elder and outpatient care as well by enabling remote monitoring of the health and well-being of a patient and loved one."
The GE team is part of the company's Early Health initiative, which aims to foster earlier diagnosis and more effective care by spotting symptoms or potential problems at earlier stages, perhaps even before the patient is aware of them. The team's research is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) Sensors and Surveillance Group, which focuses on technologies that monitor prisoners in correctional facilities.