SAN FRANCISCO—Chip maker Maxim Integrated Products Inc. is shopping a reference design for a telehealth fitness shirt with integrated electronics capable of monitoring vital signs and enabling medical professionals to perform frequent and less costly monitoring of vital signs.
The "Fit" shirt, developed in collaboration with firms Clearbridge VitalSigns and Orbital Research, measures 3-lead electrocardiography (ECG), body temperature and motion. According to Maxim (San Jose, Calif.), the shirt is an example of a more effective and less costly preventive medical care enabled by electronics.
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As medical costs of skyrocketed, many in the medical and electronics fields have pointed to the potential of telehealth to enable physicians and other medical professionals to monitor the condition of patients remotely in real time. This strategy focuses on using technology for data analysis and prevention, as opposed to testing patients at regular intervals. According to Maxim, the shirt is representative of this new era in preventive medical care, which the company claims could reduce health care costs by up to 10x.
ABI Research forecasts that the market for wearable devices will reach more than 100 million units per year by 2016. According to the firm, these type of devices will enable greater detail in tracking, monitoring, and care—often through connections provided by mobile phones.
Vital signs monitoring shirt enables patient monitoring and lowers the cost of medical diagnoses.
The Maxim Fit shirt integrates dry ECG sensor technology, signal processing technology, temperature sensor, motion sensor, an ultra-low-power microcontroller, and wireless electronics.
Maxim's contributions to the reference design include its ultra-low power MAXQ622 microcontroller for interfacing of multiple technologies, the MAX8671 power-management IC, the MAX6656 ultra-low-power temperature sensor and the MAX3204 USB protector.
Contributions from Clearbridge VitalSigns (Singapore), which develops wearable medical device technology, include the multichannel CBVS1202 ECG-on-a-chip for an extended period of 3-lead ECG data acquisition, advanced motion artifact rejection algorithms, 3-lead ultra-thin CardioLeaf housing design and an integrated GUI application for desktop and mobile devices.
Orbital Research (Cleveland) contributed patented and FDA approved dry electrodes that enable the capture of all the nuances of ECG waveform morphology without discomfort to the wearer of the shirt.
Maxim plans to demonstrate the Fit shirt live at electronica 2012 next month in Munich, Germany. Related stories:
Yes! It's gratifying to see this sort of product being developed. My bet is that it is this type of innovation that will keep health care costs in check, much more so than diddling around with health insurance company models.
The labor content involved in education and in health care is, IMO, why costs in those fields are so high, and always rising. This, and all the other telemedicine innovations, are just the type change in direction that is needed.