Neonatal Heart Rate Monitoring in Resource Limited Hospitals


Member profile details

Membership level
2012-2013 Team
Team Name
Project Title
Neonatal Heart Rate Monitoring in Resource Limited Hospitals
Design Challenge
Neonatal wards in developing countries are challenged by limited resources and overwhelming need. These conditions contribute to high neonatal mortality rates (NMR). A vital sign monitoring and alarm system could help reduce NMR by giving doctors valuable health-trend data as well as allowing nurses to focus more on high need patients. At present, there are no solutions designed for resource limited settings. Current solutions are expensive, power hungry, and often require disposable components. As a result, these resource-limited hospitals have requested a reliable, low-power, vital monitoring system capable of trend monitoring and alerting hospital staff when a patient is in distress.
We have designed a low cost, low power, durable heart rate sensor for neonatal infants. Our sensor interfaces with the SWAG OWLS monitoring system. As such, our sensor will be uniquely positioned to save lives and improve the neonatal mortality rate in developing countries.
Design Summary
Team VitaSign has designed a heart rate sensor for use in developing world neonatal wards. This sensor aims to address the high neonatal mortality rate in the developing world by providing long term heart rate trend monitoring and immediate alarms if heart rate drops dangerously low. This sensor integrates with the SWAG-OWLS monitoring system for wireless uplink of data to a central monitoring station. Due to the nature of resource-limited settings, the constraints of the device are as follows:

• Low Cost: less than $200 per monitor
• Low Power: able run for 6 hours without power
• Reusable: have no disposable components
• Robust: work for multiple maturities and sizes of babies in several scenarios

After consulting with neonatologists, professors, and extensive research into developing world hospitals the following design objectives were identified:

• Provide accurate heart rate data
• Have low rate of false alarms
• Meet the design constraints listed above
• Ease of use and simple set up
• Form factor should be safe and comfortable for baby

To meet this challenge, we pursued an ECG based solution.

We designed a band to hold our reusable silver-silver chloride electrodes and leads on infants. This band was created in conjunction with the BioLink team, and has the ability to measure ECG, breathing rate, and temperature.

The signal from the electrodes is put through an analog conditioning circuit, which amplifies and filters the ECG signal. The resulting signal is then gathered by a TI C2000 micro-controller.

Within the micro-controller, we have implemented a robust heart rate algorithm, based upon research articles. The resulting signal is then sent to the SWAG OWLS monitoring system, so that nurses and doctors can easily monitor their patients heart rate.

We have tested our end to end system on several adult volunteers, with very positive results. In addition, we tested our algorithm using data collected from ECG signal databases, ECG signals generated, and reliable industrial class sensors in a variety of noise scenarios.

Last Updated 04/30/2013
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Dr. Gary Woods
Award(s) and Recognition
Rice Electrical Engineering Department: Top Global Health Project

Member photo albums (3 Albums)

Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen - Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


  Industry Partners