How do you assess someone’s general health? The quickest way is to check his vital signs, such as body temperature, heart/breathing rate and blood pressure – with devices that you’ll find in any general practitioner’s office.
However, this picture may be distorted, because:
- It’s a snapshot: a singular moment in time that can differ significantly from someone’s average health state.
- It’s taken in artificial conditions that don’t resemble a person’s day-to-day circumstances, which can impact the results.
- It’s influenced by the presence of a doctor or a nurse, the so-called white coat effect.
Longitudinal and ambulatory vital sign monitoring is the way to improve the reliability of health evaluations. But that’s only possible through devices that are so small and unobtrusive that a person can comfortably wear them during his daily routine, or that are invisibly integrated into our surroundings.
Imec is working on technologies and solutions for vital sign monitoring devices, and the translation of their collected data into actionable health insights.
Wearable and non-contact devices monitor a variety of vital signs
Wearable prototypes such as our disposable health patch contain a biomedical sensor system-on-chip that can register and process multiple physical parameters. And we’re also looking at technologies for non-contact vital sign sensing based on capacitive and radar sensing.
In this way, our sensors are able to track parameters such as:
- electrocardiogram (ECG)
- photoplethysmogram (PPG)
- impedance cardiogram (ICG)
- ultrasound (PMUT/CMUT)
Based on these parameters, our algorithms calculate actionable health information:
- heart rate
- heart rate variability
- blood pressure
- blood pressure variation during the day or over several days
- breathing rate
- body water
- specific arrhythmias or anomalies
Completing the health picture
The biggest challenge is to combine all that information about vital signs – often from several monitoring devices – into one meaningful output.
The ultimate goal is to be able to instantly answer questions such as: ‘Your heart rate is slightly elevated today. What does that mean in light of your other health data or your diagnosed condition?’
The applications of such insights are plentiful: from clinical devices that automatically dispense the right dose of medicine to advanced driver-assistance systems that sound the alarm when all your health parameters indicate that you’re dozing off behind the wheel.
For another example, check out our collaboration with Onera, on the development of wearable and disposable sleep diagnostic device.
Develop your vital sign monitoring devices with imec
Join one of our R&D programs to get access to our technology platforms and tune them to your own product requirements. Imec’s expertise is built on years of experience in chip and system design, in co-creation with industrial partners and clinical experts.
Or enter into a bilateral collaboration with imec and trust on our in-house expertise for the development of your vital sign monitoring systems – all the way up to the clinical validation and FDA approval of your solution.
Want to join our research? Need an experienced partner to speed up your development?
Publications & Conference on vital sign monitoring
- Konijnenburg et al. "A battery-powered efficient multi-sensor acquisition system with simultaneous ECG, BIO-Z, GSR, and PPG", IEEE ISSCC, (2016)
- Konijnenburg et al. "A Multi(bio)sensor Acquisition System With Integrated Processor, Power Management, 8×8 LED Drivers, and Simultaneously Synchronized ECG, BIO-Z, GSR, and Two PPG Readouts", IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, (2016)
- Mercuri et al. "Frequency-tracking CW Doppler radar solving small-angle approximation and null point issues in non-contact vital signs monitoring", IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, (2017)
- Buxi et al. "Systolic time interval estimation using continuous wave radar with on-body antennas", IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics, (2017)
- Wang et al. "Biomedical Radars for Monitoring Health", Principles and Applications of RF/Microwave in Healthcare and Biosensing, (2017)
- Mercuri et al. "Monostatic continuous-wave radar integrating a tunable wideband leakage canceler for indoor tagless localization", International Journal of Microwave and Wireless Technologies, (2017)
- Wieringa et al. "Wearable sensors: can they benefit patients with chronic kidney disease?", Expert Review of Medical Devices, (2017)
- Sharma et al. "A Fluorescent Micro-Optofluidic Sensor for In-Line Ion Selective Electrolyte Monitoring ", IEEE Sensors Journal, (2018)
- Mercuri et al. "A Direct Phase-Tracking Doppler Radar Using Wavelet Independent Component Analysis for Non-Contact Respiratory and Heart Rate Monitoring", IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, (2018)
- Das et al. "Unsupervised heart-rate estimation in wearables with Liquid states and a probabilistic readout", Neural Networks, (2018)
- Zhang et al. "Motion Artifacts Reduction for Wrist-Worn PPG Devices based on Different Wavelengths", MDPI Sensors, (2019)
- Konijnenburg et al. "A 769μW Battery-Powered Single-Chip SoC With BLE for Multi-Modal Vital Sign Health Patches", IEEE ISSCC, (2019)
- Liu et al. "A 680 μW Burst-Chirp UWB Radar Transceiver for Vital Signs and Occupancy Sensing up to 15m Distance", IEEE ISSCC, (2019)
- Ha et al. "A Bio-Impedance Readout IC With Digital-Assisted Baseline Cancellation for 2-Electrode Measurement.", IEEE ISSCC, (2019)
- Mercuri et al. "Vital-sign monitoring and spatial tracking of multiple people using a contactless radar-based sensor", Nature Electronics, (2019)
- Smeets et al. "The Added Value of In-Hospital Tracking of the Efficacy of Decongestion Therapy and Prognostic Value of a Wearable Thoracic Impedance Sensor in Acutely Decompensated Heart Failure With Volume Overload", JMIR Publications, (2020)