Monitor Sensor 1


Member profile details

Membership level
2012-2013 Team
Team Name
Project Title
Monitor Sensor 1
Design Challenge
Many hospitals and clinics in the developing world are under-staffed and under-resourced. For instance, a neonatal ward might have 50 patients and only one nurse. Monitoring equipment may be non-existent, and electricity
supplies are unreliable. This situation leads to numerous problems, such as: (1) the inability of medical staff to determine when patients are in distress and (2) the lack of a reliable way to record and track trends in vital signs.
Several doctors in developing-world hospitals have stated that they would like to have a simple monitoring device that could be attached to patients. The device would report vital signs to a central monitoring station, and/or provide a bedside alarm. In the words of one doctor in a district hospital in Malawi, such a system would “revolutionize” the quality of care that could be delivered.

Team BioLink seeks to alleviate these issues associated with low nurse-to-patient ratios in under-resourced neonatal hospitals, where the medical staff is incapable of tracking--and responding to--all of the patients' vital signs. We are particularly drive to address the lack of respiratory rate monitoring: a clinical deficit that leads to the deaths of over 14,000 neonates every day in the developing world. A reliable, low-cost, low-power respiratory sensor device will significantly reduce the amount of time that the nurses much spend with each individual patient and will allow much faster responses to medical emergencies. This device will wirelessly interface with a scalable central “brick” to permit round-the-clock tracking and alerting of infants’ health in real-time.
Project Thumbnail Image
Design Summary
Team BioLink will design the iNurse™, a low-cost, power-efficient neonatal vitals monitoring system. This device will allow for high-fidelity tracking of infant health in the developing world, allowing for the prevention and mitigation for a variety of clinical disorders and pathologies. Specifically, the needs for this device are as follows:
• Vitals monitoring key to ensuring health of neonates
• Low nurse-to-patient ratios preclude proper vitals management
• Traditional vitals biosensors are too costly to adopt

Given the myriad constraints imposed by developing-world healthcare facilities, any successful vitals sensor must meet a series of specifications to ensure its utility. As such, it is necessary for the iNurse to match or exceed a series of goal specifications that define its fit for use in low-resource settings, including:
• Limited medical training and literacy among health staff
• Lack of medical device servicing capability
• Inconsistent and unreliable access to electricity
• Lack of financial resources for medical technology

After consulting with electrical engineers, bioengineers, and global health experts at Rice University, as well as a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, the following design objectives were determined:
• High diagnostic sensitivity and specificity
• Lack of required servicing/maintenance
• Ease/simplicity of use
• High degree of power efficiency
• Ability to withstand physical abuse
• Small size and low weight

Perhaps the most clinically critical of these objectives is the need for neonatal respiratory monitoring—a heretofore unsolved problem. Accordingly, to meet these design constraints and device specifications, iNurse. Specifically, iNurse employs the use of inexpensive stretch sensor belts to be placed around neonates’ chest and abdomen. These dual-belts, which also contain temperature probes, will allow for the detection of expansion and contraction involved in either method of respiration. Through extensive signal processing on an on board microprocessor BioLink is able to calculate breath rate and detect apneic episodes while at the same time alerting staff on duty via a blinking red LED.

BioLink has constructed a prototype for the iNurse, which has been tested on sample data from adult respiration. We currently have a fully functional prototype capable of detecting breathing rate and body temperature. The prototype can interface with Team Vitasign's module as well as Team SWAG's module creating a vital-signs monitoring system where all information can be viewed on a tablet display. The device will be ultimately tested in the clinic in the Spring of 2013.
Beyond Traditional Borders, Rice Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
Sponsor Logo
  • Global Health Technologies
  • Bioengineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Dr Ashu Sabharwal
Faculty Advisor 2 - Name
Dr Maria Oden
Award(s) and Recognition
-2013 Electrical and Computer Engineering Affiliates Day: 1st Place Best Undergraduate Poster/Demo
-2013 Brown School of Engineering Design Showcase: Best Interdisciplinary Design Project
-2013 Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium: Center for Multimedia

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Rice University

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Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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