E-health sensors have been the driving force behind the modern HealthTech industry which is focused on keeping the physicians and the user alike familiar with their body symptoms. The modern Healthtech is laid on a foundation of sustainable cost for efficient and adequate health care for all, and these sensors, primarily embedded on Arduino or Raspberry platforms, have proved to be a perfect stepping stone for initiation of the future e-health industry.
Developers and innovators then find ingenious ways to combine the data collected by these sensors with modern communication tools, so as to integrate these sensors with our apps, devices or other peripherals. This article provides an overview of the top three sensors: Grove, Cooking Hacks, and BITalino.
Grove systems provide a multitude of ready-to-use modules which save users from the hassle of combining all the electronic components on a breadboard. All the modules provided by Grove are aimed at one basic function- it can be as simple as a button to complex ones like heartbeat sensors/dust sensors or motion sensors and wireless communication modules. These modules are equipped with standardized connectors so as to facilitate easy connection of microprocessor input/output.
Further, being an open source platform, all the modules are supplied with clear documentations and demo code to help get the users set up quickly. Though Grove has many modules across a wide range of utilities, we will look at some which allow users to monitor physical activities/symptoms and aid in developing groundbreaking e-health interfaces and platforms.
- Grove- temperature & Humidity sensor:
A sensor to measure relative humidity with an accuracy of ±2%RH and temperature correct to ±0.3°C, it proves to be a useful tool across many e-health kits. The module is compatible with 3.3V and 5V and does not need a level shifter. Further, the Interface Bus is capable of transferring data at 1 MHz
- Grove- Alcohol Sensor:
Suitable for making a Breathalyzer, this module provides a voltage inversely proportional to the alcohol concentration in air.
- Grove- Chest Strap Heart Rate Sensor:
This chest kit can be worn on the chest kit while working out or resting and measures the heart rate accurately and displays the results on a screen via a serial port. The portability and low power consumption are what make it attractive for developers.
- Grove- GSR kit:
This kit helps to measure the galvanic skin response by measuring the electrical conductance of the skin. The kit consists of two electrodes which can be attached to two fingers and strong emotions can be detected when the user is subjected to emotion-related activities.
Cooking Hacks, the hardware division of Libelium also came up with an e-Health development kit and combines the utility of both the Arduino and Raspberry platforms to develop affordable medical sensor kits which collect data in real time and transfer/store it to a cloud or any other medium.
Their latest version of the biometric shield, consists of sensors to monitor different senses:
- Oxygen level in blood
- Blood pressure
- Patient position by accelerometer
- Muscle sensor
The module can be used to gather patient information in real-time and send it via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, and 3G etc. The biometric shield 2 also facilitates real time diagnosis by attaching a camera connector which can be used to exchange live feed between the patient and the physician.
The main advantage of the e-Health sensors by Cooking hacks is the extra detail of options given for connectivity. Such as, the data gathered can also be sent to a cloud application and an authorized recipient (a physician) can access the data and recommend solutions based on them. The platform takes into account the privacy of the data by implementing security layers at different stages and also has Android and iOS apps to properly view and understand the patient’s data on the basis of key defined metrics.
BITalino focuses on making low-cost toolkits that the researchers and students can use to create platforms which will make people more aware of their body functions and symptoms. The following three kits are currently provided:
- BITalino Board Kit:
The BITalino board kit is a ready to use hardware designed with all the blocks such as the MCU, lead accessories, Bluetooth, Power, accelerator, LED etc. pre-connected. These sensor kits can be deployed in making applications for bio signal data visualizing, psychophysiology, biofeedback, and other engineering aspects.
- BITalino HeartBIT Kit:
Like the previous kit, this one also includes all the sensors and modules pre-connected to help you get started with your heart monitoring applications.
- BITalino plugged kit:
The BITalino plugged kit contains basic components bundled in the main board which aid in data acquisition. Besides, it also has sockets to provide plug and play connectivity for either BITalino sensors or other third-party hardware.
All the three variants of BITalino are moderately priced between $100 and $175. BITalino also provides a sensor known as BITalino EMG to read signals from the brain and convert them into numerical values. These wide arrays of sensors and boards can be used to develop applications of varying utility.