Category: Personnel Health Monitoring

A Wi-Fi-based clinical observation thermometer appears on the scene

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

http://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-cadisense.htm

CadiSense

Product Page

My Comments

There have been some trends taking place to make the home network become part of in-home health care. One of the previous trends was Fujitsu using a digital camera like what is equipped in a smartphone or Webcam as a tool for measuring your pulse. Similarly, another company implemented a set of urinalysis “control sticks” that can be assessed not through a reference chart on the packaging but by a platform smartphone app that uses the phone’s camera to read these sticks.

Now a device has been launched in the UK through Solwise which uses a wireless temperature sensor to provide continual body temperature monitoring using the home network. This device, known as “Cadisense” implements a wireless temperature sensor that attaches to the patient’s nappy (diaper) or undergarment and touches the lower abdomen to measure the temperature. This device sends these temperature readings to a plug-in network bridge that connects to your home network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, with the network bridge keeping a long-term record of these observations that are taken every 30 seconds.

The data can be viewed on a Web server integrated in the network bridge that is accessible through the home network or via a remote link like what is used for most network devices that implement “remote access” or “cloud” functionality. The “dashboard” Website hosted by this Web server is optimised for viewing on a regular computer, tablet or smartphone and has the ability for regular-computer users to download the observations to the hard disk as a CSV file to import in to a spreadsheet application or email to their doctor. There are also the mobile-computing apps that work tightly with the iOS and Android platforms

At the moment, this device is focused towards observation-based clinical temperature measurement but shows that this concept can be proven beyond this application. There is a current limitation where the Cadisense temperature sensors can only work with the supplied network bridge but it is made up for the fact that the network bridge is a “3-way” wireless network device that can be either a Wi-Fi client bridge, a Wi-Fi range extender or an infill Wi-Fi access point.

For that matter, Cadisense are on a good wicket with their design because they could work this platform for a lot of in-home health-care applications including “ageing at home”. For example, their network bridge could come in to its own with the Ekahau Wi-Fi Pager Tags to be the core of a network-based “emergency-call” system that is a necessary part of caring for older people.

Once a system like this is built around industry-accepted standards like Z-Wave or Zigbee, it could mean a lot more for at-home health care and wellness applications amongst other applications like security and home automation.

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An increasing number of home systems and personal health devices link to our mobile devices

Article

Home, health devices controlled by apps on the rise | The Age (Australia)

My Comments

A trend that is becoming very real in this day and age is for more appliances, home systems and personal healthcare devices to be linked to the home network and the Internet.

This is typically manifested in the form of the devices having control apps being made available for smartphones and tablets that run on common mobile-computing platforms, especially iOS and Android. Typically the device would like to the smartphone or tablet either via a direct Bluetooth link or the home network with the mobile computing device linking to that network via Wi-Fi wireless. Some of these devices that promote “cloud-driven” or “remote-access” functionality make use of the Internet connection offered by the home network or the mobile computing device.

Of course, you have to remember that the use of the “cloud” word is primarily about the vendor or service provider providing either simplified remote access to the device or having user data being stored on the vendor’s servers.

A lot of the apps offer various device control or monitoring functions, with some of the apps linking to a remote Web server for storing user data. This is more so with personal healthcare devices where the goal is to keep a record of measurements that the device obtains on behalf of the user.

Of course, the mobile-computing-platform app may not he the only way to benefit from the connected device’s online abilities. Here, the device could work with a Web-based dashboard page that users can view with a Web browser on their regular-platform or mobile-platform computing device. This situation would come in handy if the concept is to provide more information at a glance or provide greater control of the device.

There is a reality that by 2022 a household with 2 teenage / young-adult children will maintain 50 Internet-connected devices compared to 10 such devices in 2013 according to OECD data and this situation is being described as the “Internet Of Things”.

But there are some issues here with the current ecosystem for these devices and apps. For example, if a user has more appliances and other devices from different manufacturers or service providers, the smartphone or tablet will end up being crowded out with many different apps. The same situation may occur as a device comes to the end of its useful life and is replaced with a newer device which may be from a different vendor. It can lead to users finding it difficult to locate the monitoring or control apps that they need to use for a particular device.

Here, the situation could be rectified through the use of application standards like UPnP so that one can develop apps that can manage many devices from different vendors.

This could also encourage innovation such as the design of “car-friendly” apps or voice-agent (Siri / S-Voice) plugins so that one could benefit from a monitoring or control app when they leave or arrive in the car. Similarly, the software would need to exploit the abilities that iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 / 8 / RT offer within their platforms for “at-a-glance” viewing or user notifications.

It is a change that could take place over the years as the home network exists to be the easy-to-manage small network for an increasing number of devices.

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Your smartphone’s camera can take your pulse courtesy of Fujitsu

Article

Fujitsu tech takes your pulse with your camera phone – popular science, mobile applications, mobile, Fujitsu – PC World Australia

My Comments

The platform smartphone or tablet is starting to play an increasingly important role on personal health and wellbeing without the need to be dependent on extra peripherals. It is becoming increasingly relevant for these devices so you can keep an electronic record of observations or easily send the data to a doctor or clinic via email or cloud data service. This would lead to these devices becoming part of various home-based healthcare setups like management of chronic illnesses or catering to the idea of “ageing at home” where older people can stay at home independently or under the care of their relatives, friends or paid carers.

Previously I reported on the use of a smartphone camera and app that implements machine vision for “reading” certain urinalysis sticks, avoiding the need to check against confusing charts. I even put forward the idea of using similar “fluid-analysis” sticks and a smartphone app to check other liquids like drinks for “spiking” or “loading” or to check the pH level in a swimming pool.

Now Fujitsu has developed software code that makes a small digital camera like that installed in a smartphone or tablet as machine vision for taking someone’s pulse.This may be seen to displace the medical skill where you “pinch” the patient’s wrist near their hand and count the beats that you feel for a minute measured by a stopwatch or watch with second hand.

This concept works on the fact that the brightness of one’s face changes slightly as their heart beats and uses the presence of green light to look for haemoglobin which is part of the red (just oxygenated) blood cells. The procedure requires 5 seconds versus a minute with the orthodox method and the software can assess when patient is still for improved accuracy.

Fujitsu hopes to commercialise the technology in 12 months but there are questions on whether they will implement it in their own equipment or license it to other developers. For it to be popular, they would have to license the algorithms to other software developers to integrate in to their projects and / or release a finished software product to the platform app stores for people to use on their devices.

They also see this technology as facilitating unobtrusive measurement of one’s pulse using the camera on a PC, smartphone, smart TV, or tablet this being part of long-term observational-healthcare situations like chronic illness management.

What I see of this is the ability to use the cost-effective and ubiquitous hardware i.e. the multi-functional smartphone, tablet or Ultrabook to work as part of remote health care and allied applications with minimum need to use extra peripherals.

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Internet-based health care–now a reality

Article

BBC News – Health care by TV and remote control

My Comments

The home network and the Internet is now becoming an essential part of personal health care in may ways thanks to a variety of technologies.

Facilitation technologies

Level playing field for health-care sensor devices

Certain technologies are making this feasible through the use of device classes for health-specific devices such as blood-pressure / pulse cuffs, blood sugar monitors and heart-rate monitors. They are also being enabled with low-voltage wireless technologies like Bluetooth Smart and up-and-coming low-voltage Wi-Fi designs.

These devices are being made able to work from two AA batteries or a 3V watch battery for a long time, yet use an industry-common data link and device class. The actual benefit from these design factors is the ability to supply health-care sensor devices that are cost-effective to buy and maintain; yet are able to integrate with common computing devices.

Ubiquity of open computing platforms for this application

It is being extended with the availability of regular, mobile and TV-based computing platforms like Windows, MacOS X, iOS and Android as foundations for software that records and / or reports medical-status information.

The software can be designed to keep a local or cloud-based record and signal to health-carers and/or close relatives and friends if there are abnormal events. In some cases, details can be passed through immediately to the health-care professional who is supervising the patient.

Where do I see this being applicable

I see this technology being applicable for the management of chronic illnesses where the patient can manage the illness themselves with little outside intervention. This may extend to the care of pregnant women who have a low risk of birth complications. Even when the patient must travel to the health-care professional for an appointment, both the professional and the patient are in a better position to know “what’s going on” through the treatment process.

It also adds a sense of dignity to the care and treatment process by allowing one to integrate the management procedures in to their lifestyle without feeling awkward about it. This would benefit younger and middle aged people more so especially when they are encumbered with these illnesses like diabetes.

I see it also benefiting people living in rural areas in many ways. The telehealth technology can allow a specialist based at a small or larger town to manage multiple patients and only have to travel out to attend those at risk. As well, the patient wouldn’t need to travel out to the doctor unless necessary.

It can also assist with the ageing process for seniors who want to live in their own home, live in an “own space” near their relatives such as a granny flat or live in low-needs supported retirement accommodation. Here, the technology can help with supervising medical and other therapies or simply make sure they are OK without intruding on their lifestyle and dignity. In this case, it could augment other technology projects that are in progress or being completed that assist older people with their daily lives.

Similarly, the technology would help with sports medicine in allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts, along with their trainers, know their limits and how they are performing through their workouts so they can exercise in an optimum way.

Conclusion

I would still like to see the telehealth technologies work as a complement to the personal touch in personal health care rather than distance the patient from the professional. The technologies can be seen as a tool for helping us stay well and independent; as well as conquer distance.

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Use of the Ekahau Real-Time Location System in a residential or small-business environment

I have been talking by e-mail to Mika Kouhia from Ekahau about the use of their WiFi-based real-time location technology in the typical home or small-business network. The applications that may come to mind here will typically cover an emergency-response / nurse-call system that is an integral part of the at-home care of elderly, infirm or convalescing people; or small businesses, especially those who are partners to large business, who need to track assets in a similar manner to what is done by large organisations.

What is the main complication that concerns the Ekahau Real-Time Location System

The main complication that limits this technology is the fact that most of the wireless networks deployed in this space only have one access point, typically the one that is integrated in to a wireless router. You may be lucky to use this technology on a wireless network that has an extra access point such as a wireless router that is repurposed as an extension access point and connected to the main router via a HomePlug powerline link or one of those access points that work with a HomePlug powerline backbone.  On the other hand, you would have to deploy “infrared beacons” around the premises and rely on the Wi-Fi wireless link provided by the router as primarily a communications link.

The infrared beacons work on a similar infrared frequency to the remote controls used to control the majority of TV sets and other consumer-electronics devices in circulation. Thus they won’t interfere with the passive-infrared sensors used in most security systems or automatic “sensor-light” setups because these sensors are tuned to an infrared frequency emitted as part of body heat.

The primary reason for implementing the technology in the home

Ekahau T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag

The primary implementation that I was talking about with Mika was to use their T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag which hangs around the neck of a person. This tag has an integrated display and two function buttons that also work as emergency-call buttons. As well, if the tag is pulled on the neckstrap, it can initiate an emergency response. The tag supports direct paging with push-button response, which can allow it to work with a “response-check” setup where if the user doesn’t respond within a certain time to a call, the system initiates emergency action. The display could come in handy by showing the person’s name, which would be a good help with people who have memory-loss disorders.

In this implementation, there may be the need to establish Internet access to the pager tag in order to permit this device to work as part of a solution provided by an external service provider. This may involve use of hardware or software on the network that provides at least dynamic DNS functionality and integration with UPnP IGD-enabled routers to provide access to the tag. The functionality could be extended to provide local nurse-call functionality with in-house location display through a local screen and / or Web page available through the home network.

Similarly, the pager tag could work with other technology to assist people who have memory-loss disorders by enabling the use of electronically-generated “reminder screens” for particular tasks. This is relevant to an article that I wrote about in my blog concerning technology that is to assist the elderly in their daily lives. Here, I had talked about a kitchen equipped with various technologies like pico-projection systems, RFID and Wii-style motion sensors to provide reminders through different food-preparation tasks.

How this could be taken further

Ekahau should then consider studying this application as a technology that suits the current home-driven health-care direction.

Here, we are dealing with an older population as people of the baby boom move in to the later years of life and more people live longer. As well, there is more emphasis on home-based health-care so as to provide patients with the dignity of being looked after in their own home environment. This also includes an emphasis on independent living for elderly people, including having younger relatives be part of the older person’s life in a support role.

Similarly, there are disabled or chronically-ill people who want to be in the familiarity of their own home and family and these people can be able to work as carers, whether alone or alongside paid staff members who work on a rostered system.

The supporting software could be integrated in to computing devices that work on any of the common desktop-computing, handheld-computing, set-top box or embedded-device platforms in order to establish an assistive-technology ecosystem in the home.

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Now the bathroom scales can connect to the home network

 Withings – Home Page

Why Fit | Wi-Fi Networking News

WiFi-enabled bathroom scale slides into USA, overweight Yanks sluggishly back away | Engadget

My comments on this next step for the home network

When I was young, the typical kind of bathroom scales that were commonly available were of a mechanical type that needed adjustment before anyone could be weighed. As well, a person who didn’t have good eyesight couldn’t easily weigh themselves and had to require someone else to read the weight. There was a trickle of electronic scales but these were very expensive and mainly available through selected mail-order catalog stores rather than the homewares departments of a typical department store.

In the last 20 years, we have seen the arrival of cost-effective electronic bathroom scales that had a large digital display or, in some applications, voice synthesis; didn’t need to be adjusted every time each person weighed in and could allow a person with limited eyesight to weigh themselves. These units are becoming available through most homewares stores and departments.

This bathroom scales is the first unit that does more than the typical bathroom scales can do. It can measure fat mass and body mass index; but works with a Web portal that keeps record of this data for up to 8 members of a household. The data is transmitted to the portal using the WPA-secured Wi-Fi segment of your home network and is kept in a secure manner on the portal. As well, there is a local application available for the Apple iPhone / iPod Touch platform which provides the data in a manner optimised to that handheld device. But the Web dashboard can be visited through a regular Web browser setup.

From what I have seen of this device, there isn’t anything about what is involved in integrating the scales in to a secure wireless network. As far as I am concerned, these are the kind of devices that WPS-Push-Button-Connect is made for. Another thing I would like to see for these scales is an API being available so that one can write software such as integration into various desktop, network and Internet health-records programs.

As well, this has actually been the first kind of personal-health device available on the market that is able to be part of a home network. It could pave the way for more of these networked health-measurement devices to be made available for home-network use.

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