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Innovation

EPIC biosensor chip tracks heart signals remotely

The Electric Potential Integrated Circuit monitors vital signs continuously, through clothes and without contact, gels, and sticky pads. It can even pick up our electrical activity through walls.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor on

So, what do medical technologists and video game makers have in common? They’re both in hot pursuit of ways to monitor our bodies unobtrusively.

The Wiimote and Kinect follow body movements, and now a new biosensor chip called the Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) is measuring tiny changes in electric fields to monitor vital signs continuously without even touching the patient.

Developed by Plessey Semiconductors, the tech will also use body sensing for aiding the disabled, helping emergency responders, switching on the lights, and of course, hands-free gaming that uses physiological signals to control the game. IEEE Spectrum reports.

Just 2 sensors (pictured) placed on a subject’s chest delivers electrocardiogram (ECG) readings. What’s cool is that the sensors were placed on top of the person’s shirt, and in future iterations, the sensors could be integrated into clothes or hospital gurneys – no cords, gels, awkward leads, hair-pulling sticky tapes, or even the need to remove clothes.

EPIC can also sense the electrical activity of skeletal muscles – such as those that control the eyes – making it a noninvasive interface between the nerves/muscles and the prosthesis, allowing it to respond like a natural limb.

  • Quadriplegics can control a cursor on a computer screen or operate a motorized wheelchair with just eye movements.
  • Not to mention amputees, who often have residual electrical activity in the muscle at the amputation site.
  • Waving a hand near sensors could switch lights, TVs, and computers on or off.
  • EPIC’s sensitivity can even pick up minute changes in electrical fields through walls, possibly allowing firefighters to tell if someone is inside a burning room.

According to Plessey, EPIC is essentially a very sensitive, contactless digital voltmeter capable of measuring millivolt changes in electric fields. The company started sending out commercial samples of EPIC in October.

Via IEEE Spectrum.

Image: Plessey Semiconductors

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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