Integrating Sensors: A Doc-on-a-Chip? Part 2

In the previous part of this blog, we began looking at the various sensing methods that would be used to monitor some patient parameters. The intent was to see if we could move much of the sensing and processing onto a single piece of silicon. We'll continue looking at this lab- or doc-on-a-chip.

We can monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Then we add to that gas and pressure sensors for monitoring respiration and detecting abnormalities in body chemistry. We add a communications section to pass the data to a monitoring station. But there's more we should be able to do.

An integrated lab-on-chip system should check for the presence of bacteria and viruses on the biological samples of a patient. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

System architecture (Source LIBNA)

System architecture
(Source LIBNA)

To secure the privacy of the data coming from the portable SoC station (containing the silicon-based integrated medical sensors) a very interesting solution has been developed. This new portable device will record the personal data of the patient and store it. Then a fingerprint is required to access the data. The device, known as I-Memo, is based on biometric fingerprint recognition of the user/owner. This fingerprint recognition will enable:

  • Recording of sensitive data and third-party info, as well as codes, in the form of protected, encrypted, and controlled access info, according to the latest standards and regulations in force
  • Managing mobile data such as PIN codes and credit card numbers, or access codes and digital signatures strings, and keeping all absolutely unassailable; both hardware and software have been developed to rule out any attempt to attack
  • The ability to work and access the same database of codes, passwords, and data from both the computer and mobile office

This type of application can, for example, allow an immediate action by the emergency medical personal. This can enhance the probability of surviving serious medical events like a heart attack or a stroke. These are the situations where fast action makes the difference in survival probability of a patient. An Internet-of-Things object, when used to monitor the medical parameters of a patient, can effectively send an alarm message. Data would be monitored and saved (in a safe, personal storage IC, like the I-Memo). These statistics for the patient's physical condition can really help with treatment.

Do you think this system will be useful to develop a portable medical center based on silicon sensors and on integrated lab-on-chip technology? What do you think about the privacy of the medical data of a patient guaranteed by this kind of solution? Have you had experience with portable checkup systems like this one? Do you think that the overall system will be compliant with safety rules and regulations of the market in which the system will be present? Do you think that the lack of harmonization of medical regulation rules in different countries may be an issue?

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11 comments on “Integrating Sensors: A Doc-on-a-Chip? Part 2

  1. amrutah
    December 16, 2013

    I-MEMO being a device which is only accessible by fingerprint will help a lot since there is no password authentication to hack the system.  If it is ensured that only Doctors and patients' fingerprint are allowed to access the data then there is robustness.  However, I-MEMO mostly being a storage device there will be chances that the part where the processing takes place might be vulnerable for data leakage.

  2. etnapowers
    December 17, 2013

    @amrutah: I agree with you on that, I-MEMO is really a nice storage device, it is really helpful to a secure access to medical data. The company producing this device has performed many leackage tests on the device, to avoid the risk of data leakage.

  3. Victor Lorenzo
    December 17, 2013

    An integrated lab-on-chip system should check for the presence of bacteria and viruses on the biological samples of a patient

    That's interesting, really interesting. I'm looking forward to see this kind os system coming to reality. It will help reducing the diagnostics time to a fraction.

  4. Victor Lorenzo
    December 17, 2013

    The I-Memo seems to be suitable for holding personal information/login credentials in a fairly secure storage device.

    Now imagine it with the size of a iPod Shuffle, with no display, BTLE/USB connection emulating a secure smartcard for automatically login into Windows/MAC/Linux and allowing the usage of the Smartphone (or the computer) for browsing the secure storage data base… tasty.

  5. amrutah
    December 17, 2013

    I believe I-MEMO has it own firmware and doesn't interface with any of the PC's so that the possibility of hacking through any of the devices is avoided.  The patients can only read or take print out of the data.

      Connecting it to a windows or any pc can make it vulnerable.

  6. Victor Lorenzo
    December 18, 2013

    Quoting from one of I-MEMO's supporting web page ( “The USB port and the software I-MemoMan , especially developed for the recovery of the contents”.

    Running on Windows, many chances are that it could be hacked (once authenticated).

  7. etnapowers
    December 18, 2013

    Yes Victor, I agree with you, the integrated lab-on-chip solution is really interesting and its goal is to perform a first fast diagnostic process. It won't substitute a medical personnel but it will be really helpful as well for a first medical screening step, for example to individuate a person affected by a disease that can be trasmitted from person to person, to enhance the prevention of a spread of the contagious disease.

  8. etnapowers
    December 18, 2013

    @amrutah:you're right, the iMEMO is really secured by the finger prints access, the customized firmware, as Victor Lorenzo correctly said, is mainly for autorecovery purposes, so this  further enhances security, because the device could work whatever of a connection with a PC.

  9. etnapowers
    December 18, 2013

    @victor: I have read a presentation of I-MEMO containing a roadmap of the developement of the device, and the goal is to obtain an object similar to the one that you described.

  10. Victor Lorenzo
    December 18, 2013

    @etnapowers, perhaps they would like to look at this project:

  11. etnapowers
    December 18, 2013

    Hi Victor: yes the crypto stick is designed based on the same approach of I-MEMO, but the authentication is based on SSL certificate and not on finger prints recognition, I think that the basic idea of a secure handled device to store the data in a safe way is really useful in medical integrated applications.


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