Imec and Holst Centre announce IC and open hardware development kit for personal health monitoring

At next week’s mHealth Summit 2014, held Dec. 7-11 in Washington, D.C., nanoelectronics research center imec and Holst Centre will showcase at their booth (#610) a development kit based on an open hardware platform using a highly integrated multi-sensor data acquisition chip. The chip combines on-board digital signal processing with analog interfaces for multiple body sensors, such as electrocardiogram (ECG) and bio-impedance. The development kit is extremely small and light-weight and has an open sensor platform. The sensor platform can be fully customized with different sensors enabling the development of wearable and personal healthcare applications.

The development kit builds upon imec and Holst Centre’s ultra-low power multi-sensor data acquisition chip (MUSEIC). Its unique combination of high accuracy and ultra-low power allows reliable monitoring for several days with only a single battery. Additionally, its high integration enables smaller, more comfortable devices and innovative designs.

“One of the major limitations in the development of innovative personal healthcare applications is the availability of miniature and open hardware platform” said Chris Van Hoof, program director at imec. “Our development kit will offer application developers a miniature, light-weight, and customizable hardware platform, enabling application development and field studies.”

The development kit consists of a customizable sensor layer (including 3-lead ECG, bio-impedance, accelerometer and microphone), the MUSEIC chip, SD card storage, a Bluetooth (4.0) and Bluetooth low-energy compliant radio, and a separate ARM Cortex M4 processor. The MUSEIC chip is capable of collecting data from a wide range of on-body sensors (both analog and digital interfacing) and performing basic signal processing. It features analog interfaces optimized for three-channel ECGs, bio-impedance and tissue impedance. Additionally, a two-input general-purpose analog and six digital (SPI and I2C) interfaces allow the chip to connect to other sensors biomedical and physical sensors. A compact, low-power ARM Cortex-M0 processor is included to control the sensors and perform basic signal processing. Dedicated hardware accelerators handle matrix operations and motion artifact reduction, off-loading these tasks from the Cortex-M0 processor to improve performance and reduce power consumption.

In a typical use case collecting ECG, bio-impedance and 3-axis accelerometer data, the complete evaluation kit consumes on average only 10 m W – low enough for at least a few days of monitoring on a single battery charge.

Holst Centre and imec’s MUSEIC chip is available for interested parties through IP licensing. A ready-to-use development kit, comprising the chip, sensors and powerful off-chip processor for advanced feature extraction, is available to application developers for wearable health monitoring applications.

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