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Ubiquitous Lifesigns Monitoring

Embedding electronics directly into fabrics, and weaving intelligent clothing is possible these days. Thus, it is not a great step to envisage clothes which continuously monitor your vital signs, and relay that information to a computer system, also located about your person, or in your house or vehicle.

In fact, a few products which do just that, are already on the market. A couple of examples would include:

VivoMetrics LifeShirt

Further Info:

Local Product Review

The LifeShirt is a garment (not necessarily a shirt) developed by VivoMetrics, which monitors the wearer's vital signs. Collecting a continuous stream of respiration flow, heart rate, breathing regularity, sweat production and other key metrics. Currently, it has found a home in top medical schools and drug companies, but has not succeeded at penetrating the general market.

The idea is simple, yet effective. Continuous monitoring of a person's lifesigns, offers in many ways a superior standard of care to a standard hosital ward. Using a shirt to do this, means the person is able to get bed rest, or be active as they choose - and if they are active, the computers monitoring the shirt, will know this from the way the vitals change.

Infinity Telemetry

Further Info:

Product Home Page

The Infinity Telemetry system is a lot less comprehensive than the LifeShirt, but has seen a greater uptake due to the lower price tag that comes with that simplicity. Compatible with DICOM & PACS medical data standards, it is designed more to help hospitals manage patient data than for use outside the hospital. However, it is capable of both.

Infinity Telemetry monitors ambulatory patients and transmits their vital data to the hospital's central computer system, either via direct Wi-Fi, or by transmitting to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, and then using the internet to make the rest of the journey. It monitors the patient's electrocardiograph or ECG data, and displays the waveforms on its colour screen. They are also stored, and a full analysis of behaviour over the past seven days can be performed locally.


Further Info:

Press Release

Nordic telecommunications operator TeliaSonera created the BodyKom wearable health monitor in a noble effort to move serious, incurable, but easily monitorable conditions out of the hospital, and allow people to get on with their lives. Heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and other such conditions are ideal candidates for this. BodyKom connects wirelessly to sensors on the patient. If dangerous changes are detected in the patient's body, the hospital or health care services are automatically alerted over a secure mobile network connection.

The unit receiving the alarm is also informed of the location of the patient through integrated GPS.


Why All The Fuss?

If there seems to be an inordinate amount of fuss over wearable healthcare within this and other resources here, and elsewhere on the web, that is because we are rapidly approaching a point at which these will be more desirable than a hospital stay.

The advantage of telehealth devices is just that - remote healthcare. No need to be in a hospital, yet still maintain the same standard of care for all but intensive care patients. For the hospital, that means less beds occupied, less expensive staff to keep on hand to monitor and tend to dietary and hygeine needs of the inpatients. For the patients, it means their condition can be monitored, as they go about their daily lives. It allows instant access to ther equivalent of a complete physical, day or night. It also allows one other, growing benefit:


Superbugs are bacteria which live in hospitals. Constantly exposed to every antibiotic on the market, they build up immunities to all of them, and rapidly become unkillable. By 2005, at least 100,000 people per year were picking up an infection of these growing superbugs, caught whilst they were in hospital. By 2007, even in developed nations like the US and UK, the concept of having a hospital quarantined due to an in-house created, lethal bacteria, was just a concept no longer.

Antibiotics are not completely powerless but patients may require a much higher dose over a much longer period, or the use of an alternative antibiotic to which the bug has less resistance. Sadly of course, the more alternative antibiotics that are used, the less options there are for the next patient, as the bacteria adapts and becomes resistant to the new ones as well.

Add in that the population in hospitals tends to be older, sicker and weaker than the general population, making them more vulnerable to the infection, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thus, as these infections continue to spread, almost unchecked, through our hospitals, the need for hospital care remotely, becomes ever more pressing. At current rates, it will only be a few years before telehealth monitoring is vital for patient safety.

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