Updated on 17 September 2013
In the office
The workplace may not be the first environment associated with health monitoring, but with the cost of provisioning health benefits at the corporate level, work-related health management programs are being introduced as a means to reduce healthcare benefits costs. The most common form of workplace health monitor is the pedometer. While these small devices can be carried in the pocket or tied to the shoe or hip, the embedded technology makes them smart enough to discern if the wearer is walking, running, or simply making erratic movements to try and fool the device. Analog Devices' ADXL362 low power MEMS accelerometer provides all of the necessary features to support pedometer applications.
Another area of workplace health management is stress detection. Stress can be measured through galvanic skin impedance and heart rate. Technology can be embedded into every day work-related devices such as the computer mouse or keyboard to measure these required vital signs. Analog Devices' ADuCM360 low power, precision analog micro-controller provides an ideal system-level solution for accurate measurement of galvanic skin impedance. The ADuCM360 is a fully integrated, 24-bit data acquisition system that incorporates dual high performance, multichannel, sigma-delta analog-to digital converters (ADCs), a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and Flash/EE memory on a single chip.
In the battlefield
Military personnel are exposed to the harshest of conditions, and the ability to remotely measure their vital signs through body-worn sensors is critical for their protection and well being. On the battlefield, a remote triage area for medics is vitally important to the safety of the medical team and the individuals affected. Being able to prioritize treatment amongst many and determine who needs medical attention first before stepping into a combat area can save lives. Heart rate monitors (AD8232), activity monitors (ADXL362), temperature sensors (ADT7320), stress indicators (ADuCM360), and impact sensors (ADXL377) can be used individually or collectively to monitor the health of our servicemen and women.
On the smartphone
Technology already exists within the smartphone in the form of an embedded accelerometer to support pedometer, activity monitoring, or sleep monitoring applications. The CMOS camera sensor can also be used as a simple HRM through multiple techniques of image analysis to detect changes in blood flow. However, these technologies tend to burn power - not necessarily through the sensor but because of the way the technology has to be implemented to support these applications. This is a problem because smartphone power must be reserved for email and social media applications. Analog Devices' AD8232 single-lead HRM AFE and ADXL362 low power, 3-axis MEMS accelerometer have the size, performance, and power profiles necessary and, when either embedded or as an added gadget attached into a smartphone, can independently measure heart rate and motion, respectively.
In the car
Much research is underway to determine how we can monitor our vital signs effectively in the confines of our car. Emotion and stress sensors, heart rate monitoring, temperature sensing, C02 sensing, glucose monitoring, Sp02, and pollen are all potential applications targeted at improving driver safety and making the driving experience more pleasant. Telling the driver he might be having a heart attack could lead to panic and further disastrous consequences; however telling the driver to wake up is a practical application of heart rate monitoring. The steering wheel provides an obvious location for mounting vital signs monitoring equipment - AD8232 HRM can connect to embedded electrodes in the material covering the steering wheel. Additional, or even the same, electrodes can be used to measure the galvanic skin impedance to determine stress and emotion levels. Analog Devices' ADuCM360 low power, fully integrated, 24-bit data acquisition system-on-a-chip provides a platform for measuring the galvanic skin impedance and converting the output of the AD8232 to a digital format.
In summary, the concept of 'home monitoring' is taking on many new dimensions. With advanced technology, evolving support infrastructures, lifestyle diseases and the unquestionable need for healthcare cost reductions, personal health monitoring will become a natural part of our daily lives, available when and where we need it, blending into our personal telehealth ecosystem. Whether it is for managing disease outside of a hospital or clinic, supporting independence of the aging population, motivating healthy lifestyle habits, improving personal safety, or simply providing peace of mind, Analog Devices is at the forefront of this market dynamic, developing sensor and signal conditioning technology solutions to enable next generation vital sign monitoring.