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Electronica 2016: wearable health patch provides platform for mobile health solutions

A small, energy-efficient health patch which accurately measures cardiac activity, body composition and physical activity has been unveiled on the first day of Electronica 2016.

The product, which is a comfortable, form-factor patch, has been optimised for low-power consumption and was developed by research and innovation teams from Imec and Holst Centre, and the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research (TNO).

Such a device could offer a key service to the medical industry’s pursuit of improved and more accurate mobile health solutions for those suffering from chronic health conditions.

“Many companies working in the digital health realm have great ideas for innovative solutions that could make it easier to remotely monitor people suffering from heart and respiratory diseases, to give an example. However, what is typically lacking, are the devices on which to run these solutions,” says Chris Van Hoof, program director of wearable health at Imec and Holst Centre.

Containing a low-power chip with a wearable electrode patch that can stay on the body for long periods, the product is the first of its kind to offer a variety of health tracking capabilities. It comes complete with an accelerometer to physical activity, an ECG for heart rate monitoring, and bioelectrical impedance monitoring to measure body composition and respiratory activity.

In recent years, the effect of ageing population, combined with a rise of chronic disease, have been felt across the healthcare industry. It is thought that in the near future, wearable products in digital and mobile health tracking could help ease healthcare strains by enabling individuals to manage their health and receive personalised treatments.

“Since our entry in this space, we’ve advanced far beyond proof-of-concept to a patch that has attained a high level of technical maturity,” says Ruben de Francisco, program manager of wearable health at Imec and Holst Centre.

“The underlying technologies have been fully validated, and the patch itself has been tested within a controlled environment. Today, it is ready for pre-clinical and usability studies. Looking ahead, we plan to build on our expertise in the domain of data science to lay the foundation for a powerful patient management solution that not only captures data, but also turns data into meaningful information upon which people and health providers can act.”

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