Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Smartphones as Mini Medical Labs Is A Smart Idea


Tuesday, 4 December 2011

Smartphones as Mini Medical Labs Is A Smart Idea

Imagine your smartphone becoming a mobile medical laboratory that records and sends data for a range of research. That will soon be a reality thanks to the expertise and impatience of a University of Sydney PhD candidate.

“This method makes heart rate research more inexpensive, portable and straightforward,” said James Heathers, the PhD student from the University’s School of Psychology who came up with the idea.

Data on tiny fluctuations in our heart rate provides critical information on the state of our nervous system, and is essential for a range of psychological research including on anger, anxiety, stress and self-control. It is also used to monitor people’s health after operations and has wide applications in sports science.

At the moment heart rate variability (HRV) research is done in a university laboratory with a group of study participants. Electrodes are attached to their chests to measure HRV and the data is recorded, one person at a time, using a laboratory computer.

“The idea struck me because I’m by nature impatient and my area is psychophysiology – which is all about the relationship between physiological and psychological states. As part of that, I spend a lot of my time thinking about designing better systems to get the data I need – but faster.”

“In a nutshell, I realised the problem was how to get this very useful data more quickly and cheaply. By providing people with a sensor and then using their smartphone to process the data we are no longer tied down to booking appointments in a university laboratory, and can record dozens of separate data streams at the same time.

“The sensor, placed on a finger instead of using electrodes on the chest, is so small we can mail it to study participants.”

To make his idea a reality Heathers collaborated with Simon Wegerif, a biomedical engineer.
Wegerif’s company, HRV Fit Ltd, already had an HRV phone app - iThlete - widely used by professional sports teams and athletes, for whom heart rate variability is an important measurement of their performance and recovery.
The challenge was to adapt a similar app into a tool that can collect and provide HRV data in a way that is useful to researchers.

“We have run tests of our sensor linked to a smartphone and the software is working very well. I expect it to be up and running – and available for free – in the next few months,” said Heathers.

The risk of contamination of results being collected outside the laboratory can be addressed by accepted quality controls such as checking consistency of data.

Heathers plans to use the HRV data to expand theories on the day-to-day fluctuations of the nervous system, and to collect data from groups who are traditionally hard to access.

“This new device will be a huge help in my own research but also has fantastic potential for the research area in general, and I want everyone to have access to it to pursue their own work.”

Heathers has just presented his concept at the Australasian Society for Psychophysiology conference.



Picture: Smartphone Pulse Rate Variability device

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Must Sell 20 Petrol Stations: Z Cleared To Buy Caltex Assets

Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coordination between fuel retailers occurs in some regions. More>>

ALSO:

Huntly: Genesis Extends Life Of Coal-Fuelled Power Station To 2022

Genesis Energy will keep its two coal and gas-fired units at Huntly Power Station operating until 2022, having previously said they'd be closed by 2018, after wringing a high price from other electricity generators who wanted to keep them as back-up. More>>

ALSO:

Dammed If You Do: Ruataniwha Irrigation Scheme Hits Farmer Uptake Targets

Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter announced. More>>

ALSO:

Reserve Bank: OCR Stays At 2.25%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2.25 percent, in a decision traders had said could go either way, while predicting inflation will pick up as the slump in oil prices washes out of the data and capacity pressures start to build in the economy. More>>

ALSO:

Export Values Down: NZ Posts Biggest Annual Trade Deficit In 7 Years

New Zealand has recorded its biggest annual trade deficit since April 2009, reflecting weaker prices of agricultural commodities such as dairy products, beef and lamb, and increased imports of vehicles and machinery. More>>

ALSO:

Currency Events: NZ's New $5 Note Wins International Banknote Award

New Zealand’s new Brighter Money $5 note has been named Banknote of the Year in a prestigious international competition. The $5 note was awarded the IBNS Banknote of the Year title at the International Bank Note Society’s annual meeting. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news