IMEC Reveals Details of Wireless Biomedical Monitoring Platforms

IMEC together with its sister company IMEC-Nederland at the Holst Centre realized two new body-monitoring wireless sensor nodes which collect and process data from human body sensors and wirelessly transmit the data to a central monitoring system. The small size and low power consumption of both systems enables non-invasive and ambulatory monitoring of vital body parameters.

IMEC’s two-channel bio-potential wireless sensor node targets the simultaneous monitoring of two vital body signs provided by portable electrocardiogram (ECG, which monitors the heart activity), electromyogram (EMG, which monitors muscle contraction), electroencephalogram (EEG, which monitors brain waves) and electrooculogram (EOG, which monitors eye movement).

The second system is an eight-channel wireless EEG system integrated in a cube. The small size and autonomy of the systems increase the patient’s autonomy and quality of life and open up new applications for sports, entertainment, comfort monitoring, and other health and lifestyle products and services.

Both systems use IMEC’s proprietary ultra-low-power bio-potential readout ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) to extract the bio-potential signals produced during the ECG, EMG, EEG or EOG measurements. The ASIC exists in a one-channel and an eight-channel version. The main features of the ASICs are:

  1. Ultra-low power consumption of only 60µW for the one-channel version and 300µW for the eight-channel version
  2. Suitable for a large spectrum of bio-potential signals, including EEG, ECG, EMG and EOG, by an electronic settable gain, electronic settable high cut-off frequency and externally adjustable low cut-off frequency
  3. Low noise (60nV/ÖHz integrated noise for the one-channel and 80nV/ÖHz for the eight-channel ASIC)
  4. High common-mode rejection ratio (greater than 120dB) which is required to cope with the large common-mode interference from which the uV-range signals suffer
  5. Capable of filtering 50mV DC offset generated by the bio-potential electrodes

Two-channel bio-potential wireless sensor node
Two-channel bio-potential wireless sensor nodeThe wireless sensor node integrates two of the one-channel bio-potential EEG, EMG, ECG and EOG read-out ASICs, allowing simultaneous monitoring of two bio-potential signals, a commercial microprocessor and a 2.4GHz radio link. It also includes a human body adapted loop antenna offering a range up to 10m. The system has a power consumption of only 5 to 10mW, depending on the application, allowing 12-24 hours continuous measurement when operated from a prismatic or coin-cell rechargeable battery.

Thanks to its small size (49.15mm x 19.35mm x 3mm without battery), it can easily be integrated in a plaster or bandage and worn on the body thus allowing non-invasive and ambulatory multi-modal monitoring of vital body parameters. Potential applications are sleep monitoring, activity and muscle fatigue monitoring and rehabilitation monitoring.

Eight-channel wireless EEG system
Eight-channel wireless EEG systemThe wireless EEG system is a 3D system-in-a-package integrating the eight-channel bio-potential read-out ASIC, a commercial microprocessor and a 2.4GHz radio. The system consumes only 6.6mW power (from which 70% is consumed by the radio) at a sampling rate of 512Hz, resulting in 60 hours energy autonomy when being supplied by a compact 150mAh Li-ion battery. The very compact size of only 1.35cm cubed is achieved by using IMEC’s 3D system-in-a-package technology which allows high integration density and double-sided component mounting.

Future research targets the integration of IMEC’s proprietary ultra-low power UWB radio to further improve autonomy. Complete energy autonomy is targeted by integrating energy scavengers such as thermal scavengers which use the heat of the body to generate the required power.

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems. IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company in the Netherlands, IMEC Nederland, concentrating on wireless autonomous transducer solutions, and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1500 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2006, its estimated revenue (P&L) was EUR 227 million.

About the Holst Centre
The Holst Centre was set up in 2005 with support from Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and the Flemish Government and is located on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The center is the creation of IMEC (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) and will grow into an international recognized open R&D institute that develops generic technologies and technology platforms for autonomous wireless transducer solutions and systems-on-foil. The activities on wireless autonomous transducer solutions in the Holst Centre are run by IMEC-NL, the sister company of the Belgian research centre IMEC. Interaction and cooperation with both academia and industry, including small- and medium-sized enterprises, enables the Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to the long-term corporate strategies of its partners. A beneficial transfer of technology to the industry is guaranteed and market requirements can be anticipated.