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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Open Surgery Initiative Aims to Build DIY Surgical Robots

February 7th, 2017 No comments

Medical equipments can be really expensive because of the R&D involved and resulting patents, low manufacturing volume, government regulations, and so on. Developed countries can normally afford those higher costs, but for many it may just be prohibitively expensive. The Open Surgery initiative aims to mitigate the costs by “investigating whether building DIY surgical robots, outside the scope of healthcare regulations, could plausibly provide an accessible alternative to the costly professional healthcare services worldwide”.

DIY Surgical Robot – Click to Enlarge

The project is composed of member from the medical, software, hardware, and 3D printing communities, is not intended for (commercial) application, and currently serves only academic purposes.

Commercial surgical robots can cost up to $2,000,000, but brings benefits like smaller incisions, reduced risks of complications and readmissions, and shorter hospital stays thanks to a faster recovery process. There have already been several attempts within the robotics community to come up with cheaper and more portable surgical robots, such as RAVEN II Surgical robot initially developed with funding from the US military to create a portable telesurgery device for battlefield operations, and valued at $200,000. The software used to control RAVEN II has been made open source, so other people can improve on it.

The system is currently only used by researchers in universities to experiment with robotic surgery, but it can’t be used on humans, as it lacks the required safety and quality control systems. This is a step in the right direction, but the price makes it still out of reach for most medical hacker communities, so Frank Kolkman, who setup the Open Surgery initiative, has been trying to build a DIY surgical robot for around $5000 by using as many off-the-shelf parts and prototyping techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing for several months with the help of the community.

Three major challenges to designing a surgical robot (theoretically) capable of performing laparoscopic surgery have been identified:

  1. The number and size of tools: during a single operation a surgeon would switch between various types of tools, so a robot would either have to have many of them or they should be able to be interchangeable. The instruments are also extremely small, and difficult to make
  2. Anything that comes into contact with the human body has to be sterile to reduce the risk of infection, and most existing tools are made of stainless steel so that they can be sterilized by placing them in an autoclave, that may not be easily accessible to many people.
  3. The type of motion a surgical robot should be able to make, whereby a fixed point of rotation in space is created where the tool enters the body through an entry port – or ‘trocar’. The trocar needs to be stationary so as to avoid tissue damage.

He solved the first  issue by finding laporoscopic instruments on Alibaba, as well as camera, CO2 insufflation pumps, and others items. For the second hurdle, he realized a domestic oven turned to 160 degrees centigrade for 4 hours could be an alternative to an autoclave. The mechanical design was the most complicated, as it required many iterations, and he ended with some 3D printed parts, and DC servo motors. Software was written using Processing open source scripting language. You can see the results in the short video below.

While attempting surgery with the design would not be recommended just yet, a $5,000 DIY surgical robot appears to feasible. Maybe it could be evaluated by one or more trained surgeons first, and then tested on animals that needs surgery, before eventually & potentially being used on human, who would not get the treatment otherwise.

While there’s “Open” in “Open Surgery” and the initial intent was to make the project open source, it turned out it is almost impossible to design surgical robots without infringing on patents. That’s no problem as long as you make parts for private use, however Frank explains that sharing files could cause problems, and the legality of doing so requires some more research.

Omron Project Zero 2.0 is a Thinner Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor & Smartwatch

January 11th, 2017 No comments

Omron Project Zero BP6000 blood pressure monitor & smartwatch / fitness tracker was unveiled at CES 2016. The device was due to be released at the end of 2016 pending FDA approval, but the launch has now been delayed to spring 2017, and it will be sold under the name “HEARTVUE”. The company has however showcased a new version at CES 2017, for now just called Omron Project Zero 2.0 that has the same functions but is more compact and lightweight.

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Omron Project Zero 2.0 (left) vs Project Zero BP6000 “Heartvue” (right)

The watch will also work with Omron Connect US mobile app, and can record accurate blood pressure, as well as the usual data you’d get from fitness trackers including activity (e.g. steps) and sleep, as well as smartphone notifications. Blood pressure measurement can be activated by the user by pressing a button and raising his/her wrist to the height of the chest. The goal is the same as the first generation watch: to make people who need it measure their blood pressure in a more convenient fashion. The second generation device looks much more like a standard wristwatch as the company reduced the size of the inflatable cuff.

blood-pressure-smartwatchThe new model will also have to go through FDA approval, a time consuming process, and Omron Healthcare intends to release the device in 2018 for around $300. More details about the new model may eventually show up on the company’s Generation Zero page.

Via Nikkei Technology

ARM Unveils Cortex-R52 ARMv8-R CPU Core for Safety-Critical Systems

September 20th, 2016 1 comment

ARM has introduced their very first ARMv8-R real-time 32-bit CPU core with Cortex-R52 designed for safety-critical applications in the automotive, industrial and health-care markets. It has been designed to address higher workloads with increased performance (up to 35%) compared to Cortex-R5 processor.

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The processor should be used in systems capable of fulfilling IEC 61508 SIL 3 and ISO 26262 ASIL D functional safety requirements. ARM explains the new processor address both random errors for example bit flipping from radiation, and systemic errors more related to software or design faults.

functional-safety-random-systematic-faults

The latter can be addresses with the right development processes, including following aforementioned functional safety standards, but random errors require some extra hardware features such as ECC memory, or dual core lock step processors, where instructions are run on two processors simultaneously and results compared.

Normally, the whole software stack must be validated and certified on safety-critical systems, even for part of the code that may not be safety-critical. This is a time-consuming and costly endeavor however, and as software becomes ever more complex becomes an issue. So Cortex R52 cores also implement a Level 2 MPU running monitor or hypervisor software, which can help separating safety code, critical safety code and non-safety code.

arm-processor-real-time-coreCortex-R52 cores would typically be used in conjunction with Cortex-A cores running non-safety code, and offering higher performance, throughput, and more peripherals. Some current processors featuring Cortex-Rxx cores include Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC (Cortex-R5), and Renesas R-Car H3 automotive SoC (Cortex-R7).

You may want to visit ARM Cortex-R52 product page for a few more details.

Sensors Predicting The Future – Elderly Persons Fall Prediction and Detection with Kinect, Webcams and Microphones

September 9th, 2016 No comments

Wearables can be used your young children or elderly persons to monitoring their locations or health, and one use case, especially for old age persons, is to detect falls. However, it’s quite possible they don’t like it and/or not always wear it, so the Center for Eldercare and Technology of the University of Missouri designed a system based on Microsoft Kinect, two webcams, and microphones in order to detect falls, and even predict falls by analyzing gait, i.e. the pattern of movement of the limbs.

fall_detection_and_prevention-kinect_microphones_webcamsThe picture above shows at least part of the hardware setup with the Kinect, a webcam, and a PC  tower doing the processing stored in a cupboard.

Fall detection algorithms are relying on the microphone array, Microsoft Kinect depth camera, and a two-webcam system used to extract silhouettes from orthogonal views and construct a 3D voxel model for analysis. Passive gait analysis algorithms are for their part taking data from the kinect and the two-webcam system. The system was installed in 10 apartment, with data gathered for a period of 2 years, and they found that a gait speed decline of 5cm/s was associated with an 86.3% probability of falling within the following three weeks, and that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6% probability of falling within the next three weeks.

You can see Gait detection in action in the video below.

More details about the studies and links to research papers can be found on Active Heterogeneous Sensing for Fall Detection and Fall Risk Assessment page on the University of Missouri website.

Via Electronics Weekly

Project OWL Open Source Hardware Ophthalmoscope is 25 Times Cheaper than Commercial Products

August 12th, 2016 4 comments

Medical grade equipments are usually very expensive, partly because of their complexity, but also because of certifications,   legal reasons, and low manufacturing volumes. That’s where open source hardware can make a big difference, and there has been several open source hardware prosthetic hands or arms such as Openbionics hand, but Ebin Philip and his team has tackled another issue with Project OWL, an open indirect ophthalmoscope (OIO) designed for screening retinal diseases, which normally costs between $10,000 to $25,000, but their open source hardware design can be put together for about $400.

Open_Source_Hardware_Ophthalmoscope

The design features a Raspberry Pi 2 board connected to a WaveShare 5″ Touchscreen LCD, a Raspberry Pi Pi IR Camera (M12 lens mount) with 16mm FL M12 lens, a 3 Watt Luxeon LED, two 50x50mm mirrors, a linear polarizer sheet, a 20 Dioptre disposable lens, and various passive components.

Project_OWL_Prototype

OIO (OWL) Prototype development

While the Raspberry Pi board is not open source hardware itself, Ebin has shared the CAD files for the design, as well as the schematics and gerber files for the RPi shield used in the project on Hackaday.io, where you’ll also find some details about the project log. Assembly instructions are currently missing however. One of the software side, the image are processed through OpenCV to remove background image and reflections.

The main goal of the project is to detect retina problems on diabetic patients in rural areas:

Currently there are over 422 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes. 28.5% of them suffer from Diabetic Retinopathy. 50% of diabetics are unaware about the risk of losing their vision. The number of cases of diabetic retinopathy increased from 4 million in 2000 to 7.69 million in 2010 in US alone. Early detection and Treatment can help prevent loss of vision in most cases.

Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy, requires expensive devices for Retinal Imaging , even the cheapest of them costing more than $9000 each. This makes good quality eyecare, expensive and inaccessible to the less privileged. The key idea in the development of OIO (code-named Project OWL) is to provide an affordable solution to help identify DR and hence prevent cases of “avoidable blindness”.

I’m unclear whether this tool is also appropriate for other tests such as dilated fundus examination, or to check the optical nerves for glaucoma patients, etc…. But if it can be used or adapted for such purposes the implications would even better greater.

TW68 Smart Bracelet Measures Blood Pressure and Heart Rate for $22 and Up

August 8th, 2016 5 comments

Some people may need to frequently measure their blood pressure because of their health condition, but it’s often a cumbersome experience, so they may get lazy, and not do it as often as needed. TW68 smart bracelet should make this easy, as it’s your typical fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor, but adding the capability to also measure blood pressure. It’s also very cheap, and I first found it on DealExtreme where it sells for just $24.

TW68TW68 specifications:

  • MCU – Nordic Semi NRF51822 ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller with 2.4 GHz radio
  • Data Storage – 7 days detailed data, 23 days total data
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Display – 0.49″ OLED display
  • Sensors –  PixArt-PAH8001EI blood pressure sensor; 6-axis Invensense-MPU6500 accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Function Health tracker: Blood pressure measurement, Heart rate monitor, Pedometer, Sleep tracker
  • Other functions: Call/Message notification, Fall reminder, Social sharing, Time, Alarm clock
  • Misc – Vibrator, touch button
  • Battery – 60 mAh LiPo battery good for 7 to 15 days; charge time: around 1h30; magnetic charging
  • Dimensions – Watch face: 41.1 x 18.5 x 11.9mm; silicon strap: 240 x 20.8 x 11.9mm
  • Weight – 25 grams
  • IP Rating – IP65 (waterproof while washing hands)

The smartband is sold with its custom USB charging cable, and a user’s manual. The provided app is compatible with Android 4.4+ and iOS 7.1+ smartphones. I’ve been told that the blood pressure data is not shown directly on the watch, so you’ll need to initiate and read the measurement with your Android smartphone or iPhone, which is not as convenient as it could be.

Blood_Pressure_Monitor_Android

This all still looks pretty good, but based on my disappointing experiences with optical heart rate monitors on most Chinese smartwatches and trackers, except possibly with Energympro EP-SH09 (not perfect but usable), I have serious doubts about the heart rate monitor accuracy, let alone the blood pressure claims.  If you look at the product description on DX, the manufacturer claims the measurements are very close to professional equipments… But the embedded Pixart “blood pressure sensor” is actually an heart rate monitor, and the sensor manufacturer only claims heart rate capabilities, nothing about blood pressure.

Finally, if you look at the upcoming and FDA approved Omron BP6000 professional blood pressure watch it is designed with a small motor that will gently squeeze your wrist while taking measurements, something that TW68 won’t do. So it’s most likely a toy than anything else. The demo from Tinydeal below shows the accessories and some of the capabilities of the bracelet, except of course HRM and BP…

If you’d still like to play with it, beside DX, you can also buy it on GeekBuying, Aliexpress, Amazon US and Tinydeal for $22 to $30 shipped.

$16 Bluetooth 4.0 LE Bracelet Monitors Babies’ Temperature

July 18th, 2016 2 comments

With electronics getting cheaper and smaller everyday, I’m expecting medical diagnostic / monitoring tools with become more convenient and affordable,  and products from the more advanced Scanadu, to much simpler Bluetooth blood pressure monitors will help people better monitor their health themselves. I’ll also getting frequent request about the availability of soon-to-be FDA approved Omron Project Zero blood pressure smartwatch. Today I’ve come across a simple $16.51 Bluetooth Smart bracelet that could be useful to monitor the temperature of sick babies or very young children.

Bluetooth_Temperature_BraceletTechnical specifications:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE with up 18 meters range
  • Sensor – Temperature between 32 and 43 degree Celsius with -/+ 0.1 deg. accuracy
  • Smartphone compatibility – Android 4.3+ or IOS 7.0+
  • Functions – Thermometer; Temperature Alarm; Medical Records; Health Management, Cloud Backup.
  • Power Supply – CR2032 battery
  • Wristband Length – 14~19cm
  • Weight – 19 g

CR2032_Battery_Smartband

The band must be worn in such as way that the temperature probe is placed under the armpit. I could not find links to the app yet. That type of product is actually pretty common, and some – such as Vipose i-Fever – also include an LCD display.

Review of Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Activity Tracker

June 27th, 2016 10 comments

I’ve been using Xiaomi Mi Band 2 for a little over two weeks now, so I’m not ready to report my findings, and the results are mixed. If you are interesting in checking out the accessories, and physical aspect of the watch, feel free to read Xiaomi Mi Band 2 unboxing post first.

Since the new model adds an OLED display, let’s first see what options it has to offer. The display is off by default, and pressing the capacitive touch button (please note that it’s not a real physical button, so it won’t work with most gloves for example) will turn on the display for 5 seconds. You can keep pressing to go through time, step count, distance, calories burnt, heart rate monitor, and battery level.

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Except for time, there’s a icon shown before display the actual value. If you find that the display does not look clear, that’s because despite its IP67 ingress protection rating, humidity made it into the display, and all I did was washing hands and taking shower during the two weeks of testing. The issue only happened yesterday, so if possible you may consider taking it off before shower, and be careful when washing hands.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_Humidity

Humidity inside Mi Band 2

Just like other devices with OLED displays, it’s barely readable under sunlight, as you can see from the picture below. If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown.

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If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown. So you’d have to make some shadow with your other hand in order to read  the display under sunlight. One good point is the algorithm that will automatically turns the display on for 5 seconds when you lift your arm. There are few false positive, and it works 80% of the time for me, the other 20% of the time I either press the button to check the time, or lift my arm again.

You’ll need to install Mi Fit app for Android in order to synchronize time and fitness data between the tracker and your phone. At first, I was unable to pair Mi Band 3 with my Mediatek phone, but after making Bluetooth discoverable in my phone, the connection worked smoothly.

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The first screen shows the number of steps, last night sleep pattern, your weight evolution (only if target is set), the last hear rate measurement, and the last 10 days step count goals. You can click on each item to get more info, including daily, weekly, and monthly statistics, sleep data, etc…

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The “Play” button on the main menu is actually redirecting to settings, where you can set notifications for calls, SMS, apps, and sit alert, as well as define alarms.

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Call, and apps notifications worked well for me, but somehow SMS did not. Sit alert allows for 60, 90 and 120 minutes of inactivity before being triggered, while you can set three alarms, that will vibrate in 4 or 5 sequences of 3 vibrations, before snoozing and repeating the process again in 10 minutes. The app can also work with WeChat, Google Fit, and Sina Weibo, but since I don’t use any of those services I have not tried. You should also be able to use Mi Band 2 to unlock your phone, but it requires Android 5.0 or greater, and my phone is still running Android 4.4.

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The profile section will show your details, total stats, connected band(s), and allow you to set some options such as activity goals in steps, other notifications, and some settings such as metric, imperial or Chinese units for length and weight. If you click on “Mi Band 2” in Profile, you’ll get more info about the band, firmware, and one feature I particularly appreciate: “Mi Band display settings” to select with items are displayed on the watch. I’m only interested in Time, Steps and remaining Battery , so that’s what I’ve enabled.

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Click to Enlarge

But let’s go back to the main menu. If you tap on the top right corner you’ll get another summary of your daily activity, as well as options to share it on social networks.

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Tapping on “Heart Rate” will bringing a window saying “Fasten your band, don’t move”, a little strange since the most interesting part of hear rate monitors (HRM) is to check your hear beat during activity, but I tapped on “Got it” and a few seconds later I got a measurement. I tried several times, and in most cases it was pretty similar to the results I got with Energympro EP-SH09 fitness tracker.

Another way to get your heart rate is to simply cycle through on the watch until you get to the heart icon, and wait for a few seconds to get your heart rate. One downside of Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HRM is that it will only take one measurement, and continuous measurement is not an option. So when I went running, I planned to just tap from time to time to check it out. However, it would fail time and time again (the screen shows — x), and after 20 attempts I gave up during the run, but I repeat the test while a cool-down walk, and again it did not work at all. Back in the car, I could finally get a proper measurement, so it appears Mi Band 2 invalidates HRM measurement is your are not still. Please note that I was holding my arm straight and close to my chest while walking and running, so the “Don’t move” message is to be followed seriously. Those results unfortunately make the HRM on Mi Band 2 nothing more than a useless gimmick.

I’m very satisfied with step counts however, as results are reproducible, and realistic with for example, 4,500 steps for a 4km run, and 2,300 steps for a 2km walk. Battery life is very good, although I did not get 20 days, I still manage to get 14 days on a charge. I did not enable phone and app notifications during the week, and battery went from 100% to 70% the first 7 days, I then enabled Skype, Facebook messenger, and phone call notifications, and the battery seemed to handle this very well, but for unexplained reasons the 12th day the battery dropped from 39% in the morning to 19% in the evening. You’ll start to get an icon on the watch when battery falls below 10%, and I decided it was time to charge the tracker on the 14th day when it dropped to 5%. The complete charge took just above 2 hours.

You can see the Mi Band 2 in action in the video review below.

Some of the advantages and drawbacks for Xiaomi Mi Band 2:

  • PRO
    • Activity tracking (step count) is working well
    • OLED display allows you to follow progress without smartphone
    • Most features work reasonably well including sleep monitoring, phone and apps notifications, alarm, etc…
    • The display can be turned on automatically by lifting your arm (worked around 80% of time for me)
    • Custom selection of items shown on display
    • Very good battery life, around 2 weeks in my case
  • CONS
    • Useless heart rate monitor that does not support continuous monitoring, and only works when you do not move
    • OLED display is rather dim outdoor, especially in direct sunlight
    • IP67 rating can not be trusted, as humidity infiltrated the tracker, even though I only took showers and washed hands (no bath, no swimming).
    • Capacitive touch button won’t work with (thick) gloves, or with wet hands, and may be triggered by flowing water/rain.
    • SMS notifications did not work for me

I’d like to thank GeatBest for sending a review sample, and if you are interested you can purchase Mi Band 2 on their website for $33.91 with coupon GBMI2. Other sellers include GeekBuying, Amazon US, and a few other alternatives.