Multi-sensor data acquisition IC and open hardware kit for health monitoring

December 05, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Belgian nanoelectronics research center imec and Holst Centre (the associated research centre that focusses on Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil) have a development kit based on an open hardware platform using a highly integrated multi-sensor data acquisition chip.

The chip combines on-board digital signal processing with analogue interfaces for multiple body sensors, such as electrocardiogram (ECG) and bio-impedance. The development kit is small and light-weight and has an open sensor platform. The sensor platform can be fully customised with different sensors enabling the development of wearable and personal healthcare applications.

The development kit builds upon imec and Holst Centre's ultra-low power multi-sensor data acquisition chip (MUSEIC). Its combination of high accuracy and ultra-low power allows reliable monitoring for several days with only a single battery. High integration enables smaller, more comfortable devices and innovative designs.

The development kit consists of a customisable sensor layer (including 3-lead ECG, bio-impedance, accelerometer and microphone), the MUSEIC chip, SD card storage, a Bluetooth (4.0) and Bluetooth low-energy compliant radio, and a separate ARM Cortex M4 processor. The MUSEIC chip is capable of collecting data from a wide range of on-body sensors (both analogue and digital interfacing) and performing basic signal processing. It features analogue interfaces for three-channel ECGs, bio-impedance and tissue impedance.

Additionally, a two-input general-purpose analogue and six digital (SPI and I²C) interfaces allow the chip to connect to other biomedical and physical sensors. An ARM Cortex-M0 processor is included to control the sensors and perform basic signal processing. Dedicated hardware accelerators handle matrix operations and motion artifact reduction, off-loading these tasks from the Cortex-M0 processor to improve performance and reduce power consumption.

In a typical use case, collecting ECG, bio-impedance and 3-axis accelerometer data, the complete evaluation kit consumes on average only 10 mW - low enough for at least a few days of monitoring on a single battery charge.

Holst Centre and imec’s MUSEIC chip is available for interested parties through IP licensing. A ready-to-use development kit, comprising the chip, sensors and powerful off-chip processor for advanced feature extraction, is available to application developers for wearable health monitoring applications.

Imec; www.imec.be / www.holstcentre.com