The Spirit of Entrepreneurship at WPI
New Company Pulsing with Potential
As Transformations was going to press, another new company based on the fruits of funded research at WPI was springing to life. Advanced Body Sensing, like ImagiSonix, has its origins in the untethered healthcare project funded by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technologies Research Center (TATRC).
Initially, the company will market a wearable pulse oximeter developed by Yitzhak Mendelson, professor and interim head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, and James Duckworth, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Mendelson is president of Advanced
Body Sensing and Duckworth is CEO.
Pulse oximeters measure blood oxygenation noninvasively by shining red and infrared light through the skin and measuring how the different frequencies are absorbed by pulsing arterial blood. Mendelson and Duckworth developed a battery-powered, wireless sensor about the size of a quarter and the thickness of three quarters. Designed to be held against soldiers’ foreheads with a strap, it would alert medics of the telltale drop in pulse, respiration rate, and blood oxygen associated with a serious wound or injury. It would also permit remote triage by indicating which injured soldiers were most in need of immediate care.
The researchers faced two key technical challenges. To minimize power use and extend battery life, they developed an improved optical sensor that sends the information wirelessly to a small belt-mounted oximeter. The computer inside the oximeter performs the power-intensive jobs of signal processing and transmitting data to the medic’s PDA or laptop computer. To eliminate motion artifacts caused by normal movements of active soldiers,
they developed sophisticated signal processing correction algorithms that factor in data from embedded accelerometers that measure body movement and posture.
At press time, Advanced Body Sensing was close to lining up its first order. They were also investigating a number of nonmilitary markets for the device (monitoring the health of firefighters, miners, divers—even mountain climbers) and exploring ways to expand the oximeter’s capabilities by enabling it, for example, to measure changes in blood volume to determine if someone is bleeding heavily.