The prototype presented by Imec and Bloomlife is the first portable 5-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) chip for continuous and accurate monitoring of the heart rate and mobility of the foetus, two important indicators of a baby's well-being. Nick Van Helleputte, R&D Manager Connected Health Solutions of Imec: "The high accuracy allows the ECG data of the foetus to be recorded at very low amplitude values, between 3 and 15 μV Peak-Peak.".
The specially developed BeatleIC chip from Bloomlife is the only chip on the market today that has all the features needed to accurately track the indicators of a fetus' well-being - such as heart rate and mobility - during the second half of pregnancy. The researchers are convinced that chips either consume too much energy to be practical in portable solutions, or they track the correct parameters of the fetus.
The BeatleIC chip has the following characteristics:
- A 5-channel ECG sensor for simultaneous recording of all perinatal health-related signals.
- Low power consumption allowing long and continuous operation with a battery life of approximately one week with a button cell.
- High accuracy to enable fetal ECG data acquisition at very low amplitude levels.
Eric Dy, co-founder and CEO of Bloomlife, said: "Our next step in bringing this technology to market is a clinical trial to further validate the chip's measurement results. We not only want to bring a consumer product to market - consisting of a sensor in a wearable patch and a smartphone application - but also a risk management platform that can be used by healthcare professionals". And Helleputte adds: "This development with Bloomlife is a concrete example of how imec's competence in the areas of nanoelectronics and digital technologies can be translated into ever smaller, more precise and yet more energy-efficient components that find their way into a wide variety of applications.