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Physiological Monitoring by "Credit Card"
Keywords: Physiological Monitoring System, Credit card sized bio-monitor, Remote Health Monitoring
The need for real time continuous monitoring of human physiological functions is becoming increasingly important due to rapidly increasing over 50 population and the general trend in younger generations for fitness training. Also both amateur and professional athletes are pushing their bodies to the limit so real time monitor of their health status is paramount. This real time monitoring or recording for later reading has to be done in a non-intrusive, non-motion inhibiting manner; yet provide reliable sensing and signal processing to transmit or store relevant information for the physician, coach and/or the individual. Key to this monitoring is the development of the appropriate sensing system and the associated electronics. A particular intriguing solution to this problem is a wearable smart garment provided the sensors and electronics can be configured to provide reliable data while being un-intrusive to the wearer and can be safe or removed during garment cleaning cycles. Clothing containing sensors to monitor bodily physiological functions is not new. The major problem to date with electronically active or smart clothing is that the monitoring control and powering electronics always appears as a relatively large box (electronics plus battery) attached to the clothing or in some cases a wrist band or a belt. Wires typically run from the garment containing the sensors to these boxes. Other manifestations have actually embedded these boxes into the garment thus causing difficulties in laundering. In some cases the sensors have to be attached directly to the body, such as the case with wearable heart monitors, using adhesives or conducting gels. The sensor/monitoring system described in this paper eliminates or circumvents many, if not all, of the issues or limitations described above. In our system the sensors are strictly contact or proximately being embedded in a form fitting garment similar to exercise togs. The electronics modules can be easily removed for garment maintenance (laundering). The electronics is truly un-intrusive being literally in its ultimate configuration the size of a credit card (55W mm x 85L mm x 1mmH) and more flexible. A range of thicknesses, from 6mm (6 credit cards) down to 1mm or less, is planned for this credit card sized module depending upon cost targets, the style of electronics (conventional or thinned) (frequency and range of transmission, number of functions monitored, and module display if used). In all cases the thickness referenced is inclusive of the rechargeable lithium polymer battery.
Harry K. Charles, Jr. Ph.D., Chief Engineer
JHU/Applied Physics Laboratory
Laurel, MD

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