LONDON A start-up based in Cambridge, England, focusing on healthcare technologies, has started user trials of a wireless temperature sensor that can measure body temperature to within a thousandth of a degree. Cambridge Temperature Concepts (CTC) has already used the sensor to create a device to assist women in getting pregnant.
The coin sized unit uses patent pending techniques to achieve huge power savings that can extend the battery life to in excess of six months rather than the usual life of a few days.
The company says the sensor's "unprecedented" precision and long life open up many other novel applications in the medical field.
"The various technologies that we have used to create our sensor did not exist 5-10 years ago. Companies had basically given up trying to create sensors with a high precision for consumer use. Fortunately, as a bunch of recent graduates, we did not know it couldn't be done," said Dr Shamus Husheer, CTCís chief executive officer.
"Also, being a start-up, meant we had to use ingenuity to solve problems. Custom ASICs were out so we used standard parts and hacked them to perform in novel ways. For example, the RF chips for wireless download are standard Atmel parts that we modified so that instead of pulsing data we use frequency modulation, reducing sensor current consumption," added Dr Husheer.
The sensor uses a Microchip PIC 8-bit microprocessor to process and compress the temperature readings which are taken every few seconds. Up to a month of data can be stored on the on-board 2Mbyte memory, which is downloaded via RF by a reader when required.
Average sensor power consumption is less than 1uA, providing for months of continuous use off a tiny battery.
The company's first commercial product, DuoFertility, is designed to inform couples of the optimal time to try and conceive a baby.