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myVitals is a low-cost, web-connected, portable medical device, which could allow patients to remain in a familiar home environment while still getting their full biometric data to identify potential emergencies. The medical measurements acquired by myVitals can be accessed/visualised LIVE desktop (for performance) or an iPad (for portability). The data is also wireless streamed to the cloud database, for remote access or post-analysis for research and diagnostic purposes.
This cloud-based approach to data gathering enables a plethora of uses, including medical advice by doctors from remote locations. This is crucial during natural disasters, in war zones and large cities, where health services are stretched to breaking-point.
I’m Nick, a Mechanical Engineering Student at Cardiff University and an avid, yet unqualified LabVIEW programmer. I am currently doing my internship at National Instruments. As a part of my training, I was given ONE WEEK to invent an innovative gadget and transform it into a functioning prototype - myVitals was born! I hope I will be able to use my programming and data acquisition expertise to enhance my mechanical engineering skills and become a holistic engineer.
I have chosen this project because I was impacted by taking care of my grandmother at home. I have noticed, that she was much more comfortable at home than in the hospital, but the lack of biometric data made it extremely hard to spot any emergencies. A low-cost, modular medical monitor would be a perfect solution for anyone in a similar situation. The added functionality of cloud-published ensures that the data can be accessed by remote medical professionals.
I think one of the biggest challenges for the current era is the medical research and personalised treatments. To make this dream a reality, doctors and data scientists need a lot of information, as humans are so diverse. This requires the assembly of data gathered from different patients to create a realistic model of the person in need of treatment. As an engineer, I think we can help that effort by contributing to the acquisition of large quantities of usable medical data.
Currently, the problem we are facing is, that the medical data that can be gathered is restricted to well-equipped hospitals. By creating the possibility to monitor the vital signs cheaply at home, I believe it is possible to speed up this process significantly.
Think globally, act locally. Solving this problem would be amazing, but even more important - the people who are ill here and now. That’s where the real-time, cloud-published medical data really shines. In the developing world, medical care is rare - partly due to the terrifyingly low number of doctors per capita. By enabling doctors in the developed world to remotely help people on the other side of the world, it may be possible to expand the idea of Doctors without Borders to the medics who can’t travel to a distant country or war zone.
A huge advantage to my design is the flexibility - it would take just minutes to add new sensors into the system. The device currently acquires heartbeat and breath volume data. But, for example, you could quickly scale it to work with wireless humidity sensors and thermometers, and you got yourself a diabetes type 2 early warning system.
It's really easy.
Electronics consists of plugging the sensors inputs-outputs into myRIO (I have done that via a breadboard to make the prototyping faster). If you use your own sensors, you may need to add necessary circuit elements (pull-up/down resistors etc.)
Software design: I have used a modified producer-consumer architecture to acquire, display, log and send the data. You can see for yourself in the screenshot, that it makes for an easy expansion into more sensors.
- Turn on the project
- Connect to myRIO
- Run Main.vi
- Run your Data Dashboard
There is a lot of room for growth here. Some Ideas I had and you can implement:
- Use NI Amazon Web Services Toolkit to become a part of the world's biggest cloud
- Move the processing to the FPGA to make room for more sensors and get more advanced functionality
- Include e-mail/text message notifications if either alarm goes off
- Include sound alarm (myRIO AUX port)
- Include a battery pack and an LTE modem for the true wireless operation
- Add more and better sensors, to make it a real, hospital-grade device
And Do Engineering!
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