Home monitoring for patients a heartbeat away

21 Jul 2008

An Irish company secured a worldwide licensing deal with Intel, which will make monitoring patients’ heart beat and gait much more efficient away from the hospital environment.

Realtime Technologies, which employs 60 people and is headquartered in Coolock in Dublin, has launched SHIMMER – which stands for Sensing Health with Intelligence, Modularity, Mobility and Experimental Reusability – following an introduction to Intel facilitated by Enterprise Ireland.

The new platform involves a sensor device, smaller than a matchbox, which a patient wears at home or in a laboratory. It takes various streams of data back to a consultant or clinician either in real-time or to be downloaded later. At present the device uses electrocardiography and a gyroscope board to monitor heartbeat and a person’s gait (in six different axes), respectively.

“The real competitive advantage of SHIMMER is its small size and battery life – it uses low power, which is important in medical monitoring as tests often need to last more than an hour or two,” said Kieran Daly, vice-president of business development for SHIMMER research at Realtime Technologies.

“It operates on an open source platform, which means additional sensors can be developed later, for example to monitor temperature or blood pressure,” Daly added.

For now, researchers in University College Dublin, St James’ Hospital and the Technology Research for Independent Living Centre (TRILC) are going to use SHIMMER, but Daly expects it to move into the more commercial field within a year or so. Each kit costs €1,900.

When used as part of the BioMOBIUS Research Platform, developed by the TRILC, SHIMMER helps researchers reduce the time spent developing core foundation technologies, allowing them to focus on their own specific research and, subsequently, cutting down development time for advanced medical devices, according to Realtime.

By Sorcha Corcoran