Developing A Life-Saving Innovation

NI’s guest blogger looks at how a team of researchers developed a cardiovascular homecare solution.


This competition is part of a partnership between NI, Arizona State University (ASU) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) focused on scaling and delivering industry-ready skills to thousands of future engineers across Vietnam.

Ideas that come from the lab will be just ideas if you cannot bring that knowledge to the community. Our idea is driven by the reality of the increase in cardiovascular disease in the community. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), there was about 17.3 million people around the world died from CAD in 2008, representing 30% of all cases of death globally. This number is expected to grow to 23 million by 2030. Vietnam is also one of the most susceptible countries to CAD. The World Heart Federation (WHF) estimates that the incidence of CAD in Vietnam in 2017 may reach 20%, ranking 4th in the world. In addition, in Vietnam, the overload of the hospital is a concerning internal issue. Recognizing that reality, our team – a group of biomedical engineering students – came up with the idea that helps people not only have a convenient homecare device but also the quality of diagnosis. Professional signals from implemented algorithms in software.

Our system
Protecting the heart is crucial for every family. Cassandra system is the solution for cardiovascular homecare. This is a monitoring system that enables ECG recording data transmitted from home directly to the server in the hospital.

Figure 1. Schematic of our Complete Ecosystem

To fully operate, Cassandra contains 2 main components: a wireless ECG monitoring device (wECG) and a data hub. The wECG is designed as a small, lightweight, flexible patch to continuously record the heart electrical activity. The data is transmitted to the NI MyRIO-based data hub via Bluetooth and to the Internet server through Wifi. The reliable range of Bluetooth transmission is 20 meters, which in consequence, covers about 200 m2 area. There are up to 16 wECG devices connecting to the Hub at the same time. HRV scanning software and cardiovascular disease prediction algorithms are developing and will soon be implemented into the Hub. The Hub can be installed at home or hospital’s patient so that it can actively monitor the patient’s cardiovascular health.

Figure 2. Wiring network of the wECG prototype.

In Cassandra project, we are currently using a smartphone as a mobile data hub, which helps us to connect wECG with the online database. For this reason, the smartphone is required to constantly run with 3G connection. This significantly reduces our product reliability. Therefore, in order to overcome this issue, we designed a stationary data hub, which will be installed in home or clinics. The hub replaces the smartphones to transmit ECG data and manage the cardiovascular health of patients.

Benefits of using LabVIEW and NI tools NI MyRIO kit was chosen to build the data hub because of two reasons. First, the kit is powerful enough to receive and process the signal in real-time, which is really important to this project. Second, the NI LabVIEW is a user-friendly design software with Graphical Design Method, which allows us to design and implement within 3 months.

As in use Bluetooth protocol as the only wireless connection between wECG and the hub, the lack of this protocol on NI MyRIO is a critical issue. We overcame this by designing a Bluetooth adapter that is compatible with NI MyRIO. The system works well as the signals are smoothly transmitted from wECG to server.

Figure 3. The hub is designed to replace mobile app for smart home or hospital integration.

Figure 4. Block diagram of the stationary hub and its interaction with the ECG module.

Figure 5. Wiring network of the Data Hub

About the software, including a mobile app that allows patients to self-monitor and stream ECG data and a website for a physician to evaluate which is the highlight of the project. For this reason, our project meets the requirements of novelty and utility solutions for the community.

Our software includes 2 parts: the connection between the ECG device and Android smartphones via Bluetooth Low Energy Protocol (BLE) and the data transfer protocol between the smartphone and the website.

Figure 6. Task handle

Figure 7. Scoring system creates the risk score for each of the data segment

The final result
After six months, our effort was proved as the result shows that the proposed Cassandra system can be used as that multi-signal monitoring for continuous ECG monitoring during daily activities. The wireless transceiver via BLE proved to be a potential choice due to its real-time transmission and low-power consumption. NI MyRIO shows its efficiency in signal processing. Furthermore, NI LabVIEW is an appropriate choice for product prototyping and development. For future applications, Cassandra with a wireless system is a potential solution for telemedicine, especially cardiac homecare.

However, it is just a beginning for our heart-work on the journey to bring the device to our community. We are trying our best to make our desire come true.


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