TI touts health monitors for the masses

Hospital-grade monitoring devices can measure things like percentage of body fat and blood oxygen saturation

TI wristband
TI spokeman Daniel Torres displays a wrist band heart monitor with a blood oxygen-level reader on his fingertip. Image: Lucas Mearian

LAS VEGAS - At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today Texas Instruments (TI) demonstrated personalized health monitoring equipment powered by new chipsets that wirelessly transmit data to health dashboards on mobile devices.

TI's prototypes included wrist bands, hand-held devices and weight scales that not only measured body weight, but by passing low-current electricity through the body, display a person's percentage of body fat, extracellular water mass, and fat-free mass.

"It's an electrical impedance measurement," said TI spokeman Dominic Torres, referring to the measurement of the opposition that a circuit presents to the passage of a current when a voltage is applied to a person's body.

TI doesn't plan to produce medical devices, but is marketing its integrated circuit technology to system manufacturers to power the devices.

Another prototype monitor consisted of a write band that has a plug for a finger mounted blood oxygen reader. The reader pulses an LED light onto a user's skin and reads back the amount of oxygen contained in the blood. Additionally, the wristband has an additional LED light that acts as an EKG or electrocardiogram, measuring the heart rate and electrical activity.

Over time, the data can be collected with an application and remotely transmitted as part of a personal electronic health record, which a physician can use to track a person's activity level, including sleep patterns and exercise levels.

"This is clinical-grade equipment," Lijoy Philipose, an applications manager with TI's HealthTech Business Unit. "It's just as accurate as anything else out there."

Powering TI's health monitoring prototypes are powered by several new chipsets, including the MSP430 microcontroller platform, the CC2541 personal area network chip that uses the Bluetooth specification to transmit data to mobile devices. TI's TI's AFE4400 family of Analog Front End (AFE) and analog-to-digital converter chips also include an LED driver that creates a digital readout.

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Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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