Dr Dimitris Anagnostou hold the new monitoring device.
Dr Dimitris Anagnostou hold the new monitoring device.
Source: Heriot-Watt University

A touch-free vital signs monitor

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have developed a technique that monitors a patient’s vital signs completely touch free.

By using a continuous wave radar-based system to sense tiny chest movements, the new method can accurately measure an individual’s heart rate and respiratory rate without the need for wires, probes, wearable technology or other skin attachments. It could also identify early signs of heart disease like arrythmia while highlighting deterioration for those living with dementia.

The new technique will benefit all ages as well as those with COVID-19 where the risk of cross-infection is high. “Continuous monitoring of an individual’s vital signs can be necessary for several reasons. In hospital, it helps clinicians to determine which patients need urgent help, if someone is improving and can provide early warning signs of a more significant problem allowing quicker intervention," associate professor Dr Dimitris Anagnostou, the project lead, explains. 

“For infants and young children, extended use of electrodes and probes can cause skin damage as well as additional distress. Burn patients and those with compromised skin conditions are more challenging to monitor for long periods with wired devices. Our technology allows a patient full mobility while being monitored 24/7. Capable of working unmanned, the signal can also penetrate walls and protects privacy," Anagnostou added. "Our approach has wide-reaching applications for the treatment of COVID-19 and can allow the progression of the virus to be monitored long-term without increasing the risk of infection.”

"Our approach has wide-reaching applications for the treatment of COVID-19."

Dimitris Anagnostou

For many elderly people, monitoring is now necessary at home. Despite leaps forward in technology, such as wearable sensors embedded in watches, for individuals living with dementia, remembering to put on a watch or wearing one continuously is problematic.

Anagnostou continues: “While our technology is not designed to be a diagnostic tool, we are confident it can support those with assisted living needs to remain at home for longer with greater confidence that they have unintrusive, real-time, continuous health monitoring. This technology clearly demonstrates what can be achieved through academic collaboration across disciplines and institutes.”

Radars have been widely used for many years to determine the distance between aircrafts or the velocity of a vehicle by comparing the frequency or phase shift of the reflected and transmitted signals.

"Our technology allows a patient full mobility while being monitored 24/7. Capable of working unmanned, the signal can also penetrate walls and protects privacy."

Dimitris Anagnostou

The new research works by detecting tiny physiological movements in the body of around 1mm even when an individual is asleep. The results of the research indicate excellent accuracy even if a relatively low frequency (2.4 GHz) is used, thanks to the novel system architecture and specialised components. It is believed this will aid its progression into home and clinical settings more quickly.

The team has designed a proof-of-concept prototype which can be built into a hospital headboard or mounted on the ceiling. Further applications could include its use in prisons, care homes and sheltered housing.

The team will now take the project a step further, utilising Wi-Fi signals to extract complimentary location and position tracking data that will further support those with assisted living needs to feel safer at home. The team will trial the technology which shows when a person has fallen or if their daily movements have significantly changed, highlighting the progression of several degenerative diseases.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

'Biases’: AI’s limitations in coronavirus response

'Biases’: AI’s limitations in coronavirus response

AI is playing a key role in the Covid-19 response, but it could also be exacerbating inequalities within our health systems – a critical concern that is dragging the technology’s limitations back into the spotlight.

Withings’ wearable receives medical CE marking

Withings’ wearable receives medical CE marking

Withings announced the European availability of ScanWatch after receiving the CE marking for medical devices.

Wearable tracks COVID-19 key symptoms

Wearable tracks COVID-19 key symptoms

Researchers have developed a wearable device to catch early signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19 and to monitor patients as the illness progresses.

Face mask sensor to detect COVID-19

Face mask sensor to detect COVID-19

Researchers are developing a color-changing test strip that can be stuck on a mask and used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in a user’s breath or saliva.

Wearable Electronics for cardiac monitoring

Wearable Electronics for cardiac monitoring

An inexpensive yet highly sensitive wearable sensor holds promise for detecting early COVID-19 symptoms and monitoring heart disease.

Lab-on-a-chip turns blood test snapshots into movies

Lab-on-a-chip turns blood test snapshots into movies

The new device can continuously sense levels of virtually any protein or molecule in the blood. The researchers say it could be transformative for disease detection, patient monitoring and biomedical research.

Micro-supercapacitors to self-power wearables

Micro-supercapacitors to self-power wearables

A stretchable system that can harvest energy from human breathing and motion for use in wearable health-monitoring devices may be possible.

Smartwatch can detect early signs of illness

Smartwatch can detect early signs of illness

Researchers have developed a smartwatch app designed to alert users when their bodies show signs of fighting an infection, such as elevated heart rate.

The role of mhealth in monitoring Covid-19 patients

The role of mhealth in monitoring Covid-19 patients

Researchers have examined how mobile technologies have been used in monitoring and mitigating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Popular articles