Reference Number: EMRC-TC-2018-2-PhD
The focus of this project is on continuous monitoring of health parameters such as pulse rate, energy expenditure, body temperature, and electro-dermal activity. This will be applied to the development of robust, validated technology to accurately measure these parameters during everyday activities as well as vigorous exercise.
Specific Requirements of the Project
• Degree in Electronic Engineering or equivalent (e.g. Computer Systems Engineering), or other science or engineering degree with some electronics experience.
Project Aims and Objectives
The aim of this project is to advance the technology for the continuous monitoring of health parameters such as pulse rate, energy expenditure, body temperature, and electro-dermal activity.
This is an exciting and active area of research with many applications in healthcare and beyond. There are inherent challenges in robust ambulatory health and activity sensing. Several commercially available activity monitors have proven extremely useful for lifestyle and motivation to exercise providing persuasive feedback to their users. The measurements, however, have been found to lack accuracy. Energy expenditure estimates are often reduced at low levels of activity, sleep detection is prone to false positives (e.g. sitting still), and pulse data is susceptible to drop-outs during periods of vigorous exercise when imperfect sensor-skin contact becomes problematic.
In previous work in the Quantified Outpatient Project (http://quantifiedoutpatient.com), prototype systems have been developed to acquire detailed, high resolution recordings of health parameters. Using low-power embedded processors, the data-logging aspects can be achieved readily. However, the sensor technology currently available does not provide accurate data during the activities of everyday life. The reliability of the data degrades further in periods of vigorous exercise. These are the same problems experienced by commercial activity monitors, essentially because the same sensor technologies are used by both systems.
The objectives of this project will be to examine the fundamental technologies used for health and activity monitoring, and to investigate improved solutions that are accurate, robust, reliable, low-power and unobtrusive.
For example, most activity monitors that measure pulse rate do so using optical reflective sensors. They monitor the colour of the blood, seen through the skin, which turns subtly different shades of red during different stages of the pulse. Several alternative technologies exist (e.g. electrocardiography, ultrasound, etc) but the optical sensor is widely employed due to its low cost, low power and relatively unobtrusive wrist-mounted form-factor. In this project, we will be looking to challenge all the assumptions made in sensor designs like this to produce improved performance using the technology of today (or likely technology of the near future).
Signal processing techniques may also be employed to enhance the accuracy and reliability of health monitoring sensors. Relevant techniques will be explored as part of the project although no specific signal processing experience is necessarily required.
Hardware development and embedded system design will form important aspects of this project. There will be opportunities to develop skills in electronics design and construction.
Project is open to: Home/EU and overseas
Informal enquiries can be made to
Dr Tim Collins, Tel: +44 (0) 161 247 1658, E-mail: [email protected]