Holst Centre and imec have unveiled a prototype flexible health patch weighing just 10g – half the weight of current products.
The patch uses real-time electrocardiogram (ECG), tissue-contact impedance and accelerometer information to accurately monitor physical activity. Thanks to advanced system in package (SiP) technology from SHINKO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES CO., LTD., the electronics module measures less than two by two centimeters. The high accuracy algorithms, low power consumption, and small size and weight make it ideal for consumer applications.
A growing public interest in healthy living is driving the emergence of activity monitors, with a number of devices already available that count the steps you take or the calories you burn. Heart rate is a key input in determining activity levels; hence monitors that can be worn comfortably on the chest offer the greatest accuracy. This increases the demand for small, lightweight monitors that can flex and move with your body.
Imec and Holst Centre’s novel patch makes such applications possible. The accurate patch combines ultra-low power electronics and flexible electrode technology, it includes a 1-lead ECG, a tissue-contact impedance sensor and a 3D accelerometer. Data is processed and analyzed locally, and relevant information is transmitted via Bluetooth Smart (BLS). The patch acquires, processes and communicates data on a minimal energy budget, allowing extended use with smaller batteries. Moreover, the Bluetooth Smart link provides a standardized communication channel to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
Working with SHINKO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES CO., LTD, researchers from imec used SHINKO’s SiP technology to integrate all this functionality into a module measuring just 17.4 mm x 17.4 mm. This represents a PCB area reduction of 52% compared to previous generations of the module. The module was then integrated into a flexible and stretchable patch designed by Holst Centre. The design combines system in foil technology with stretchable, integrated electrodes to create a lightweight patch that can be worn comfortably on the chest for extended periods. The module’s small size and the flexibility of the patch reduce motion artifacts and thus provide more accurate and reliable monitoring.
“Our novel technology for packaging electronic devices uses a high-density organic substrate to reduce overall system size. Thanks to the experience we’ve gained in this joint initiative with imec and Holst Centre, SHINKO can accelerate the development of next-generation body area network (BAN) products,” said Tadashi Kodaira, corporate officer of SHINKO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES CO., LTD.
“Comfortable, lightweight wearable systems for personal health monitoring are emerging, given their promise to better analyze patient’s physiological parameters. We are excited about working with SHINKO to successfully bring the technology closer to consumers’ needs,” said Chris Van Hoof, program director Wearable Healthcare at Holst Centre/imec.
The patch was developed in the framework of imec’s and Holst Centre’s Human++ program, addressing the need for better, more efficient healthcare monitoring systems. This first-of-a-kind demonstrator opens up new opportunities for companies in the wireless health and lifestyle segment. Imec and Holst Centre are looking for partners interested in industrializing the concept.
SHINKO was founded in Nagano, Japan in 1946. SHINKO is an all around manufacturer of semiconductor packages, notably lead frame and PLP (Plastic Laminated Package), and is recognized as a leader in the industry. More information on SHINKO is available at: http://www.shinko.co.jp/english/index.html
About Holst Centre
Holst Centre is an independent open-innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia around shared roadmaps and programs. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs.Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by imec (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Government of Flanders. It is named after Gilles Holst, a Dutch pioneer in Research and Development and first director of Philips Research.Located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from the state-of-the-art on-site facilities. Holst Centre has over 180 employees from around 28 nationalities and a commitment from more than 45 industrial partners. Visit us at www.holstcentre.com.
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of over 2,080 people includes more than 670 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2012, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 320 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec.be. Stay up to date about what’s happening at imec with the monthly imec magazine, available for tablets and smartphones (as an app for iOS and Android), or via the website www.imec.be/imecmagazine