Hackaday Prize Entry: HeartyPatch

[Ashwin K Whitchurch] and [Venkatesh Bhat] Have not missed a beat entering this year’s Hackaday Prize with their possibly lifesaving gadget HeartyPatch. The project is a portable single wire ECG machine in a small footprint sporting Bluetooth Low Energy so you can use your phone or another device as an output display.

Projects like this are what the Hackaday Prize is all about, Changing the world for the better. Medical devices cost an arm and a leg so it’s always great to see medical hardware brought to the Open Source and Open Hardware scene. We can already see many uses for this project hopefully if it does what’s claimed we will be seeing these in hospitals around the world sometime soon. The project is designed around the MAX30003 single-lead ECG monitoring chip along with an ESP32 WiFi/BLE SoC to handle the wireless data transmission side of things.

We really look forward to seeing how this one turns out. Even if this doesn’t win a prize, It’s still a winner in our books even if it only goes on to help one person.

12 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: HeartyPatch

  1. Here is my 2 cents in regards to this as far as hospitals are concerned. There are commercial devices out there already made to do what this project is doing but none of them have really taken hold of the telemetry market because they are limited compared to what is already being implemented (Just Google “ECG patch” and look at images and you will see a variety of implementations). The tele devices now display multiple leads continuously which is important in greatly reducing false positives (ex. patient tremor can look like ventricular tachycardia) and even then they go off so much that most of the time nurses and tele techs have to regularly silence them.

    A large portion of the medical cost in these devices goes towards keeping with the various safety certifications as well as insurance in case something happens. One of the things I keep seeing is that people make a homemade medical device and tout it as lower costing than the “equivalent” medical device but fail to take into consideration the testing, certification, and insurance required. Not trying to downplay it but at least make an apples to apples comparison. If someone is realistically trying to make a lower costing “equivalent” device then they need to include those things in there. This is not even accounting for putting in time and money in carrying out safety/non-inferiority device trials.

    If this device is to be relegated to just helping a few people that are interested in it then sure by all means go for it (I’ll support it and even more as it is open-source so other people can learn/easily change it) but I would definitely not try to compare it to a commercial implementation as far as it being safe and accurate.

    1. This.

      Also the project seems to only log long-term heart rate data, rather than fine-grained waveforms that might indicate something abnormal in cardiac function. Polar et al. have done some form of this for decades.

      1. Thank you. This does provide real-time ECG analysis, we have posted some screenshots of the ECG obtained also. This exactly is the difference between Polar and such devices.

    2. Thanks toby. We completely agree with you that certification and testing are the major costs in the medical devices and these costs are going to remain the same.

      We are not trying to compare it to a commercial implementation. This is just one step closer to an open-source implementation. Making it open-source also means that we get to get comments like these from users like you., so maybe we can develop a better algorithm to avoid false positives for instance. I’m sure if there is enough interest, we can definitely produce a lower-cost device, certified and all. We are currently getting ready for trials (in a hospital) and will go for certification and testing. This project actually came out of a discussion while comparing ECG patches (available) for a customer project.

      This device does provide continuous real-time waveform display too (please check our project page for a video). What we have presented is one use-case, however this gives a platform for exploring things which were not possible before.

    3. Thanks toby. We completely agree with you that certification and testing are the major costs in the medical devices and these costs are going to remain the same.

      We are not trying to compare it to a commercial implementation. This is just one step closer to an open-source implementation. Making it open-source also means that we get to get comments like these from users like you., so maybe we can develop a better algorithm to avoid false positives for instance. I’m sure if there is enough interest, we can definitely produce a lower-cost device, certified and all. We are currently getting ready for trials (in a hospital) and will go for certification and testing. This project actually came out of a discussion while comparing ECG patches (available) for a customer project.

      This device does provide continuous real-time waveform display too (please check our project page for a video). What we have presented is one use-case, however this gives a platform for exploring things which were not possible before.

      And yes, your 2 cents does help making things better.

      1. My comment about it being compared to hospital offerings was more directed at the person that wrote this article in the first place rather than at you or your team. Your team is doing good work as far as I am concerned and I am interested in seeing where this project goes. Best of luck.

        1. I know it’s not quite there for hospital offerings in the western world however I could see many applications for 3rd world countries etc. The device is a start and we like to applaud such devices especially when they can change the world for the better, who knows they may go on to produce something that is fully medically certified, After using this as a springboard into the medical field.

          1. I see where you are coming from and it’s great to see the future in such things but I don’t like comparisons being drawn up where it’s a definite stretch. Examples include Solar Roadways and Fontus Self-filling water bottle where they each harp on what may be possible but they are (in their current state) definitely far away from such things. We can ignore the likes of uBeam and Theranos. Not saying this falls in the same category as them. I think this project belongs to a far more higher class than those two but it’s all about the feasibility given the current offerings. I would certainly have no qualms about it if there was supporting evidence that it would be cheaper than current commercial offerings (such as a budget sheet including all necessary costs such as hardware/time/certifications/insurance) but I don’t see it so that is why I am flapping my lips.

            I have taken a couple of electronic medical devices through the design and certification process and seen costs just balloon from initial prototyping costs. It’s a first hand experience and definitely a humbling one at that.

            While writing this, I am half-way thinking I should make my own medical device, go through the design and certification process, and then come up with an article describing in detail what goes down. That could possibly make for an interesting article on Hackaday.

  2. It seems that getting sales contracts for medical devices is a bit like military contracts.
    My wife just procured a mannequin and associated electronics for simulations in a hospital. $120,000. Astounding.
    You can talk all you want about research, insurance etc, but when I carefully looked over that mannequin, all I saw was a Porsche or Ferrari, and I know what has more years of research, engineering and costs of development.
    Medical contracts are every bit as lucrative as military contracts, and we, the end user, are paying through the nose.

  3. Burdick located in Milton WI, manufactured an FDA approved portable device along these lines in the mid 80’s for EMT use. Exceedingly advanced for the day. It provided multiple leads, included code in rom giving a physician’s diagnosis of the patient’s immediate cardiac status, paper tape waveform output, battery or external supply, 2 line lcd alphanumeric display that is still used and has arduino libraries available, size of a laptop but 3″ thick. FIRST machine I ever did smt work on. One of the devices I’ll never forget. Most impressive! Well ahead of it’s day. I may be able to come up with the model # so you can obtain schematics for reference.

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