Small wireless device turns a smartphone into a heart monitor

Swiss researchers have created a heart monitor small enough to attach to a patient's belt loop, helping to alert physicians to imminent cardiac events.

The device, which took four years to develop, is about four to five inches long, and has four tiny sensors that create a "wireless body sensor network" that can read a patient's cardiac rhythms, note anomalies, and transmit them to clinicians via the patient's smartphone.

Created by the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), the system can be worn under clothing, and can monitor patient data continuously for up to four weeks on one battery charge, researchers tell CNN.

When the system detects cardiac abnormalities, it can send data, text or images of waveforms to the physician for review.

"Many of the problems with the heart are not very well understood," David Atienza, head of the Embedded Systems Lab tells CNN. "It's very difficult for doctors to anticipate what is going to happen. This device will provide a better understanding of what is going on."

And the tiny heart monitor might be the first of many miniature developments. EPFL's is participating in the pan-European research project, "Guardian Angels for a Smarter Life," linking universities, research institutions and private companies. Their goal: To develop small, cheap technologies for healthcare monitoring.

To learn more:
- read the CNN article
- check out this post on the Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence website
- get more detail from the EPFL announcement