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

 

Media: Julian Wilcox Leaves Māori TV

Māori Television has confirmed the resignation of Head of News and Production Julian Wilcox. Mr Maxwell acknowledged Mr Wilcox’s significant contribution to Māori Television since joining the organisation in 2004. More>>

ALSO:

Genetics: New Heat Tolerant Cow Developed

Hamilton, New Zealand-based Dairy Solutionz Ltd has led an expert genetics team to develop a new dairy cow breed conditioned to thrive in lower elevation tropical climates and achieve high milk production under heat stress. More>>

Fractals: Thousands More Business Cards Needed To Build Giant Sponge

New Zealand is taking part in a global event this weekend to build a Menger Sponge using 15 million business cards but local organisers say they are thousands of business cards short. More>>

Scoop Business: NZ Net Migration Rises To Annual Record In September

New Zealand’s annual net migration rose to a record in September, beating government forecasts, as the inflow was spurred by student arrivals from India and Kiwis returning home from Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Fletcher To Close Its Christchurch Insulation Plant, Cut 29 Jobs

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, will close its Christchurch insulation factory, as it consolidates its Tasman Insulations operations in a “highly competitive market”. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Novartis Adds Nine New Treatments Under Pharmac Deal

Novartis New Zealand, the local unit of the global pharmaceuticals firm, has added nine new treatments in a far-ranging agreement with government drug buying agency, Pharmac. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Wary On Tax Take, Could Threaten Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning the tax take may come in below forecast in the current financial year, as figures released today confirm it was short by nearly $1 billion in the year to June 30 and English warned of the potential impact of slumping receipts from agricultural exports. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Outage: Power Mostly Restored Overnight

Vector wishes to advise that all but 324 customers have been restored overnight. These customers are spread throughout the network in small pockets. The main St Johns feeder was restored around midnight allowing most of the customers in all affected areas to have power this morning. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news