There are a few different ways to take a person’s pulse, with varying utility depending on the categories said patient fits in to. [Nitin Nair]’s method doesn’t really have a medical application, but it’s certainly a neat example of what you can do with modern sensors.
The build combines an EmotiBit sensor platform with an Adafruit Feather and accompanying Charlieplexed LED module. The EmotiBit packs a PPG, or photoplethysmogram sensor, otherwise known as a pulse oximeter, which uses optical methods to detect changes in blood volume beneath the skin. From this data, a pulse rate can be derived, and the LEDs flashed with a heart graphic in concert with the rhythm of the wearer’s heart. The benefit of the PPG in the EmotiBit is that it can be worn on the wearer’s arm, or other location with suitable vascularization. This allows the wearer to place the sensor on the arm, and thus wear their heart on their sleeve.
It’s a cool concept, and we’d love to see it neatly packaged with a smoothly animated fade as a sports accessory. It’d be an easy way to signal how fast your heart rate recovers on a run with friends – the device could brag about your fitness for you. Alternatively, if pulse oximetry isn’t enough for you, go ahead and build an ECG instead!
The heart! A pump of the most fantastical kind, it is capable of operating for decades without rest. It’s responsible for supplying vital oxygen to the body’s subsystems, and can be readily monitored with modern technology. [Dave Vernooy] wanted to build a watch that could take heartrate and blood oxygen measurements – so he did.
Named Heartwatch, the device is a DIY smartwatch build with a bunch of exciting features. Heart monitoring is taken care of by the MAX30102 sensor which integrates all the hardware to sense heart rate and oxygen saturation into a single tiny plastic package. There’s then an assortment of accelerometers, gyros and even a color LCD to display all the wonderful information.
It’s all wrapped up in a 3D printed case, with an ATMEGA1284 running the show. The project just goes to show how much can be achieved with an 8-bit processor – there’s not always a need to run a high-powered ARM chip for an embedded project.
There are a fair few DIY smartwatch builds out there – like this classy unit with an OLED screen.
The “Crivit Sports” is an inexpensive chest-strap monitor that displays your current pulse rate on a dedicated wristwatch. This would be much more useful, and presumably more expensive, if it had a logging option, or any way to export your pulse data to a more capable device. So [RoGeorge] got to work. Each post of the (so-far) three-part series is worth a read, not the least because of the cool techniques used.
In part one, [RoGeorge] starts out by intercepting the signals. His RF sniffer? An oscilloscope probe shorted out in a loop around the heart monitor. Being able to read the signals, it was time to decode them. Doing pushups and decoding on-off keyed RF signals sounds like the ideal hacker training regimen, but instead [RoGeorge] used a signal generator, clipped to the chest monitor, to generate nice steady “heartbeats” and then read the codes off the scope without breaking a sweat.
With the encoding in hand, and some help from the Internet, he tested out his hypothesis in part two. Using an Arduino to generate the pulses logged in part one, he pulsed a coil and managed to get the heart rates displayed on the watch.
Which brings us to part three. What if there were other secrets to be discovered? Brute-forcing every possible RF signal and looking at the watch to see the result would be useful, but doing so for 8,192 possible codes would drive anyone insane. So [RoGeorge] taught himself OpenCV in Python and pointed a webcam at the watch. He wrote a routine that detected the heart icon blinking, a sign that the watch received a valid code, and then transmitted all possible codes to see which ones were valid. Besides discovering a few redundant codes, he didn’t learn much new from this exercise, but it’s a great technique.
We’re not sure what’s left to do on the Crivit. [RoGeorge] has already figured out the heart-rate data protocol, and could easily make his own logger. We are sure that we liked his thorough and automated approach to testing it all, from signal-generator-as-heartbeat to OpenCV as feedback in a brute-force routine. We can’t wait to see what’s up next.
If you’re at all into medical hacks, you’ve doubtless noticed that the medical industry provides us with all manner of shiny toys to play with. Case in point is a heart-monitoring IC that’s so brand new, it’s not even available in all of the usual distributors yet. [Ashwin], who runs a small prototyping-supplies company, ProtoCentral, has been playing around with the new MAX30003 ECG chip, and the results look great.
The punchline is that the four-to-five dollar chip does everything for you, including analog filtering, wander removal, and even detecting the pulse rate. Using the chip is simple: you plug in two electrodes on one end, and you get the waveform data out over SPI on the other, with little or no work to do on the microprocessor side. The Arduino in the examples is just passing the SPI data straight to the laptop, with no processing going on at all.
[Ashwin] is selling these as breakout boards, but everything is open source, from the hardware to the GUI, so check it out if you’re interested in building your own. In particular, the circuit is just a voltage regulator and five volt level shifter.
Everything we know about electrocardiography projects, we learned from this presentation, and it looks like the devil is in the (many) details, so it’s nice to offload them to custom silicon whenever possible. We just think it’s awesome that we can scoop up some of the giant medical industry’s crumbs to play around with.
[Moldovanu] and [Radu] are out to fix emergency medical care in their native Romania. They’re developing a very inexpensive bracelet that keeps track of heartbeat, blood oxygen, and temperature of a patient, either in an ER or in the waiting room.
The Health Mate, as the guys are calling it, is a small bracelet loaded up with IR LEDs, photodiodes, a temperature sensor, and a WiFi module. They’ve wired all these parts up on a home made board, connected a battery, and are starting to measure their vitals.
It’s a simple device, but it’s simple for a reason: heart rate and blood oxygen saturation are some of the most important indicators doctors and nurses look at when triaging patients. By making their health monitor cheap and good enough, it eventually makes its way onto the wrists of more patients, and will hopefully save more lives