eHealth closer to reality thanks to real-time relevant medical data extraction

Eindhoven 20 August 2008In the framework of Holst Centre, IMEC - a European independent nano-electronics research institute - has broadened the functionality and scope of its wireless health monitoring technology by linking it to real-time extraction of relevant medical data. The new technology builds upon the "knowledge streaming" concept of i.Know - a Belgian SME specialized in intelligent applications for automated knowledge extraction and representation. The system takes a central position in the future scenarios of eHealth and personalized medicine.


The rising cost of health care in developed countries calls for alternative ways of increasing efficiency, productivity and usability. Future health monitoring systems will deliver intelligent services in chronic disease management, assisted medical diagnostics, patient compliance monitoring and emergency response. In all of these scenarios, the availability and interpretation of personal medical data plays a crucial role.

Within its Human++ research programme at Holst Centre, IMEC already focuses on building blocks for miniaturized wireless sensor nodes allowing comfortable and continuous measurement of body parameters. Thanks to the collaboration with i.Know, the Human++ programme moves one step further in the chain and also develops technologies that allow fast and accurate interpretation of the collected data.

The technology developed by IMEC and i.Know is illustrated for the case of ambulatory cardiac monitoring (ECG). Based upon an incoming stream of ECG signals, relevant features are extracted and associated with an objective interpretation. For example the heart rhythm and the shape of an ECG peak allow the system to detect abnormal physiological events. As a consequence, a doctor or a call centre can be alerted to diagnose the status of the monitored patient.

Now that the concept is proven, IMEC and i.Know will further enhance the system by associating it with external databases such as electronic patient records and PubMed. By doing so, the detection of abnormal events can be enriched with contextual data, such as the medication history of the patient. This will e.g. allow doctors to easier find their way in an abundance of data and support their diagnosis. Future research also targets the integration of data from multiple sensors such as EEG, EMG, physical activity monitoring and temperature, allowing more precise interpretations. The concept of knowledge streaming provides a generic framework for data fusion and context-aware monitoring, possibly applicable in domains other than health care and medicine.

Holst Centre is an independent open-innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia around shared roadmaps and programmes. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs. Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by IMEC, Flanders, Belgium and TNO, The Netherlands with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Government of Flanders. It is named after Gilles Holst, a Dutch pioneer in Research and Development and first director of Philips Research.

Located on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from the state-of-the-art on-site facilities. Holst Centre has over 100 employees - growing to over 200 by 2010 - and a commitment from over 15 industrial partners.

i.Know is a Belgian company developing ways to handle the information overflow today's society has to cope with. By performing an automatical qualitative analysis on all kinds of data, i.Know's "Information Forensics" Technology gives structure to unstructured data piles so that they can be easily unlocked, accessed, searched an enriched.

i.Know stands for and develops Intelligent Knowledge Management Systems: smart software tools and applications for information and knowledge management. Its technology leads to Knowledge Streaming applications, streamlining multiple information sources autonomously into knowledge via one interface in real time. Knowledge Streaming hence allows people and enterprises to anticipate all kinds of situations with well-informed decisions, based on true understanding of all available data; on the spot, whenever and wherever needed.

i.Know was founded in 2001 by Michaël Brands and Dirk Van Hyfte. The company is currently located at the Diepenbeek Wetenschapspark, close to the Hasselt University, and consists of a small team of highly skilled and specialised linguists and IT professionals. In order to develop its technology and applications, i.Know partners with several eminent enterprises and participates in a number of research projects, all intelligently dealing with information and knowledge.

IMEC is a world-leading independent research centre in nano-electronics and nanotechnology. IMEC vzw is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company in The Netherlands, IMEC-NL, offices in the United States, China and Taiwan, and representatives in Japan. Its staff of more than 1600 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2007, its revenue (P&L) was 244,5 million euro.

IMEC's More Moore research aims at semiconductor scaling towards sub-32nm nodes. With its More than Moore research, IMEC looks into technologies for nomadic embedded systems, wireless autonomous transducer solutions, biomedical electronics, photovoltaics, organic electronics and GaN power electronics.

IMEC's research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems. More company news can be found in the VMW August 2008 article IMEC extends flexible ECG patch to enable arrhythmia detection.

Leslie Versweyveld

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