Our vision: Using radar technology to enable touch-free and continuous vital sign monitoring for stationary hospital patients, home care, follow-up care, and infant observation.
Continuous monitoring of vital signs is a crucial task not only in hospitals. Electrocardiography (ECG) and photoplethysmography (PPG) have been established as state-of-the-art devices to monitor the heart rate of patients. It is important to observe the cardiac activity as it allows doctors and nurses to immediately react to sudden changes of the physical condition as every second counts in emergency situations.
However, all available technologies for continuous observation of vital signs have the common disadvantage that they necessitate direct and permanent contact with the skin. Since patients are therefore bound to diagnostic machines by cables, ambulation, feeling of freedom, and autonomy are severely reduced. Furthermore, the set-up of the devices and electrodes has to be carried out by a qualified member of staff. Even simple activities of daily living as trivial as going to the bathroom or taking a shower require the staff to take off the probes and to reattach them afterwards.
To allow for continuous vital sign monitoring without restrictions or limitations with regard to the patient, a touch-free alternative has to be proposed. To solve this problem, we introduce a combination of radar technology and intelligent machine learning algorithms to enable long-term recordings as no other technology can at the moment. The basic idea of radar-based vital sign monitoring is easy: every heartbeat causes a small vibration of the skin surface which is measured by radar through continuous distance measurement. Using a 24Ghz radar module, mattresses, blankets, and clothes can be penetrated. At the same time, these radio-frequency waves pose no harm to the human body since almost all of it is reflected at the skin. By combining radar systems with innovative algorithms, we are firstly able to perform contactless heart sound measurements which are usually recorded using stethoscopes.
Using this novel approach, an unprecedented ECG-like accuracy can be achieved which in turn allows us to measure parameters such as the heart rate variability (HRV). HRV reflects the activity of the autonomous nervous system and gives information about the state of a person such as pain, anxiety, or stress. First clinical studies have already proofed the performance of our system.
Besides the clinical environment, our devices could also be used in other scenarios such as home or follow-up care. Patients who have suffered a heart attack are for example very likely to suffer another seizure in the following period. Therefore, long-term and continuous monitoring at home could be crucial for them. Besides, this technology could easily be used to observe infants in order to prevent the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS still poses the most common cause of postneonatal infant death.
Our product allows for easy upscaling as off-the-shelf radar systems can be used combined with custom pattern recognition algorithms. Therefore, the costs of our product will not exceed those of clinical ECG devices or common infant monitors.