Efficient Embedded Digital Signal Processing For Mobile Digital Health Making Medical Sensor Systems "Smart"
At present the physiological monitoring of patients is largely restricted to the bedside in a wired, secure environment, with concomitant limitations in flexibility, and adverse impact on the quality of life of the patient. Mobile digital health technology offers more comprehensive and continuous wireless patient monitoring outside the clinical environment, allowing patients to continue normal activity. At present, remote monitoring of patients is restricted to simple physiological signals such as ECG measurement, glucose monitoring etc, with low processing requirements, and usually, no communications capability. However, there is a social and economic imperative for the addition of more complex signal processing to sensors to increase the number and complexity of medical conditions that can be monitored remotely. This leads to the concept of Biomedical “Smart Sensors”.
Realising a Biomedical Smart Sensor will require the solution of a large number of research problems. Among these are the challenges of low power, high reliability, high performance, high flexibility and low cost. Incorporating communications capability into the sensor leads to the development of Wireless Smart Sensors. Such systems integrate embedded sensing devices and embedded signal processing, and provide patient summary information for wireless transmission to a remote or local device. This enhances the capability of the system by allowing for the possibility of immediate intervention by a clinical professional or care giver.
For the immediate future, sensors will remain external to the body, monitoring physiological signals from the outside of the body. However, in 10 years time, in-vivo monitoring of even more complex medical conditions is expected to be the norm, with battery-less sensors inside the body. This will create a monitoring environment which has practically no impact on the patient’s lifestyle, while at the same time providing effective solutions to a variety of healthcare problems.