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Wearables for a healthier world: Technology in action

Every day we hear about the surmounting costs of global healthcare. In the news, almost every day, we read and hear about government agencies fighting with insurance companies and medical providers. It’s a slow-moving highly complex process, but people need early detection and prevention of illness as well as good chronic disease monitoring which needs to be done in a non-intrusive manner so people will almost not be aware that they have such devices on their person. In addition, remote monitoring is essential for the successful integration of such a system into our busy lives.

That’s where engineering and technology comes in, with engineers who want to help improve conditions on this planet and make life better. Unlike the ‘red tape’ and bickering in government agencies, insurance companies and medical providers, engineering advances forward at a rapid pace. Case-in-point is a Maxim Integrated innovative and, ‘keyword: accurate’, wearable solution.

How can this be done with clinical performance and accuracy, and a long battery life in a tiny solution that we will not know is there? To complicate matters more, continuous personal monitoring is a must, not just a wake-up and sample technique—-we do not want to miss anything happening in our bodies that might be a momentary and fleeting anomaly that might be critical to diagnosis. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

A personalized, continuous monitoring technique that combines the best in fitness and clinical solutions is the solution that will work in our everyday lives (Image courtesy of Maxim Integrated)

A personalized, continuous monitoring technique that combines the best in fitness and clinical solutions is the solution that will work in our everyday lives (Image courtesy of Maxim Integrated)

After my attendance at the MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress this year, I visited with Sudhir Mulpuru, Executive Business Manager, Industrial & Healthcare Business Unit, at Maxim Integrated. He revealed to me an amazing design engineering feat; a biopotential (ECG, R-to-R, and Pacemaker Edge Detection to sense and remove pacemaker pulses) and bioimpedance (BioZ) Analog Front-End AFE with Heart Rate detection algorithm for wearables. This MAX30001 IC enables continuous monitoring, pacemaker edge detection, beat-by-beat detection as well as a single bioimpedance channel that can measure respiration. All of this with clinical and fitness applicability and a very low drain on the battery. See Figure 2 and this video.

Figure 2

Click here for larger image 
The block diagram for the MAX30001 (Image courtesy of Maxim Integrated)

The block diagram for the MAX30001 (Image courtesy of Maxim Integrated)

The block diagram in Figure 2 shows ESD protection on the input, as well as the necessary EMI filtering.

Applications

A good example for an application of this technology with the MAX30001 is that it enables SKIIN’s bio-sensing underwear to monitor and track health metrics 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in low power operation. See their technology here.

Some other applications are:<.p>

  • Single-Lead Event Monitors for Arrhythmia Detection
  • Single-Lead Wireless Patches for In-Patient/Out-Patient Monitoring—patches can be waterproof and last as long as 14 days on battery power
  • Chest Band Heart Rate Monitors for Fitness Applications
  • Bio Authentication and ECG-On-Demand Applications
  • Respiration and Hydration Monitors
  • Impedance Based Heart Rate Detection1

Optical Pulse Oximeter and Heart Rate Sensors

To round out this new trio of components recently introduced, we have two more components that enable fitness, wellness, and medical applications. The MAX86140 consisting of a single optical readout channels and the MAX86141 having two optical readout channels that can operate simultaneously. These devices have three programmable, high-current LED drivers that can be configured to drive up to six LEDs and also have ambient light rejection as well as rejection of fast ambient light transients via an internal algorithm (Think of running under tree cover or in the woods where the sunlight pulses from shade to sunlight onto a smart watch—this ‘picket fence’ phenomena, if it occurs close to heart beat frequency, can cause problems which this device corrects)

These devices collect beat-to-beat data about the heart for physiological data. They measure PPG signals on the wrist, finger, or ear that detect heart rate, heart rate variability, and pulse oximetry (SpO2 which can be helpful to detect sleep apnea).

Designers at Maxim Integrated see a future for accurate blood pressure monitoring, maybe in a ring on a runner’s finger, as well as monitoring hydration (very helpful here in Arizona where I live!) with the advance of solutions like this.

See this video

Figure 3

A Wearable Preventive Health and Fitness System Solution

A Wearable Preventive Health and Fitness System Solution

For more details please contact the Maxim Integrated website

References

1 HEART RATE DETECTION FROM IMPEDANCE PLETHYSMOGRAPHY BASED ON CONCEALED CAPACITIVE ELECTRODES, Pablo S. Luna-Lozano, Ramon Pallàs-Areny, XIX IMEKO World Congress Fundamental and Applied Metrology September 6-11, 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.

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