Flexible core of IMEC’s
smart ECG patch.

A new wireless patient monitoring ECG patch has been developed for cardiac monitoring by IMEC Belgium, an independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology.

The innovative flexible ECG patch is intended to monitor single-lead ECG in individual’s daily-life conditions, providing new opportunities for cardiovascular disease management. The patch can provide 10 days of continuous monitoring.

The new wireless monitoring patch adds wave analysis software directly onto the patch. It removes disturbances and discomfort caused by some cardiac monitoring systems. The hybrid system combines electronic assembly on flexible polyimide substrate and integration in textile.

The patch features IMEC’s proprietary ultralow-power technology to extract the signals produced during the ECG measurements, a commercial microcontroller and a 2.4GHz radio link.

The patch can continuously monitor the patient’s heart at a sample rate of up to 1KHz. It sends the results directly to the receiver, or it can analyze the signals locally before sending them. Local analysis reduces the use of the radio, improving the autonomy of the patch.

IMEC has also announced a deal with National Semiconductor, a specialist in energy-efficient analogue integrated circuits, as a new partner within its Human++ patient monitoring program.

IMEC’s Human++ is based on developing technology for wireless autonomous sensor systems that can be used for health and wellness monitoring. Such systems can analyse people with sleep apnea from home or monitor epilepsy patients in an ambulatory setting.

Human++ was launched in 2002, in 2005 IMEC decided to house it in Holst Centre, a new research centre set up together with the Dutch research institute TNO under the Dutch government.

National Semiconductor recently joined the Human++. Other Holst Centre partners include Alcatel-Lucent, ASML, Bekaert, NXP, Philips, Target Compiler Technologies and Texas Instruments.

Bert Gyselinckx, Human++ program director: “We see that the Human++ technical progress is reflected in a growing industrial interest. Our physiological monitoring systems are based on ultra-low power wireless communication and start to make use of innovative energy harvesting technology. They are finding applications in sleep staging analysis, cardiac arrhythmia detection and epilepsy monitoring.”