A development that's being called the first electrocardiogram-on-chip combines Freescale Semiconductor Inc.'s microcontrollers with embedded software from Monebo Technologies Inc.
The companies said Monebo's Kinetic algorithms can be paired with any device in the chip maker's controller line, from 8 to 32 bits, to yield solutions tailored to the requirements of given heart-monitoring applications.
"We have crafted all the software algorithms that OEMs need to interpret the heart's electrical signals for any cardiac application," said Monebo vice president Patrick Kothe.
The company's algorithms already run on a range of PC and embedded platforms, but the Freescale deal marks Monebo's first effort to market a joint turnkey solution to OEMs.
"Our entire line of microcontrollers can now be combined with Monebo's software to create heart-monitoring devices," said Freescale product mar- keting manager David Niewolny. Those parts include 8-bit microcontrollers, digi- tal signal controllers and the ColdFire line, as well as Freescale's high-end Power Architecture and i.MX processors, Niewolny said.
Freescale and Monebo are promising mix-and-match hardware and software solutions that will let OEMs develop multiple devices based on the same source code. And since Monebo has already received Federal Drug Administration clearance for its software, Freescale claims OEM devices using its microcontrollers will get streamlined FDA approval.
Monebo's software performs the monitoring and pattern recognition operations required for applications ranging from costly hospital-bedside heart monitors to ambulatory-patient event recorders and even treadmill monitors. To develop its software, Monebo encapsulated expert knowledge from interviews with cardiac specialists into a set of algorithms that analyze the heart's signal. Monitoring up to 16 leads at a time, Monebo's algorithms locate the 10 known diagnostic portions of the signal and calculate common parameters with which doctors are familiar. The algorithms can detect common heart maladies, such as arrhythmia, and then annotate the signal's file to complete the rhythmic analysis.
"Our secret sauce is being able to identify the key elements of an electrocardiogram, even in a noisy environment. We do that by building filters that extract the intrinsic properties of [EKG] waveforms; that's what enables us to port our code up and down the Freescale platform," said Monebo's Kothe.
To serve the needs of different cardiac devices, Monebo divides its software algorithms into five routines, collectively called Kinetic. Kinetic Intervals measures the distance between any two points, Kinetic Rhythms classifies up to 16 distinct core rhythms, Kinetic AF automatically detects atrial fibrillation/flutter, Kinetic ST measures the standard deviation, and Kinetic QRS does a heart-rate variability evaluation.
Any of the five algorithms can be used with any of Freescale's microcontrollers, the companies said.
"We have also rewritten key parts of our algorithms to take advantage of the various capabilities in Freescale's different processors," said Monebo's Kothe.