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Android app Monitors ECG on Smart Phones

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 04 Jul 2013
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Image: The Beat2Phone application measuring an ECG (Photo courtesy of VTT).
Image: The Beat2Phone application measuring an ECG (Photo courtesy of VTT).
A user-friendly smart phone application allows consumers to record an electrocardiogram (ECG) in the comfort of their own homes.

Developed by researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (Espoo, Finland), the Beat2Phone application measures electronic heart signals using a pocket-size device that communicates with a mobile smart phone. The strap-on device, which is also equipped with an accelerometer, measures ECG signals at a high sampling rate, identifies individual heartbeats, and counts the interval between consecutive beats. The application displays and saves ECG, heart rate and its variability, and can also be used as a step counter.

The Beat2Phone device straps on the chest of the user and sends ECG data over to an Android smartphone wirelessly over Bluetooth. A live chart can be examined and historical data can be passed to a cardiologist for review. The form factor of the VTT device allows athletes to closely monitor their heartbeat during exercise, helping achieve goals while detecting arrhythmia that top end athletes can be subject to. The device also enables an advanced heart rate analysis, and GPS-based speed and distance measurements.

“Now people with heart problems can start recording their ECG as soon as symptoms appear, and send the results to the doctor by email or on the internet. The device can also be used to support home medical care,” said VTT technology manager Timo Varpula, who developed the idea. “The device is helpful for athletes, for example in preventing overtraining. It can also be used to monitor work stress leading to exhaustion. With a little development the device can be used to monitor the sleep of people suffering from sleep apnea.”

Mobile phones have evolved into pocket computers with memory capacity, clock rate, computing power, and user interface technology comparable to desktop computers of just a few years ago. Since smart phones and tablet devices already have the capacity for storage of digital information and for transmitting it to service providers via the internet, it is predicted that within five years, they will replace desktop computers at least in some spheres of life.

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland



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