Wireless Applications

GE Creates Remote Medical-Sensing Platform

March 5, 2009

The wireless system promises to dramatically improve neonatal and home health monitoring by enabling the classification of different types of motion and the tracking of a person's breathing and heart rate.

NISKAYUNA, NY /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Co., announced that scientists have transformed a common and commercially available GE sensor for home security into an innovative, intelligent wireless medical-sensing platform. If successful, this new platform could dramatically improve neonatal and home patient monitoring.

GE researchers have developed sophisticated signal processing algorithms for a wireless sensor that can classify different types of motion and closely monitor a person's breathing and heart rate. This type of sensor could have advantages in monitoring premature babies in a neonatal intensive care unit. Premature infants have very sensitive and fragile skin, which can make it difficult to directly attach sensors to them. GE's new sensor could wirelessly monitor an infant's movements, including breathing and heart rate. Similarly, the sensor could be installed in a home for elder care or other outpatient monitoring.

The research is being done through a grant from the National Institute of Justice's Sensors and Surveillance Group, which is leading a program to develop new security sensing solutions that can more effectively monitor prisoners in correctional facilities.

Jeffrey Ashe, an electrical engineer at GE Global Research and the Principal Investigator on the sensing project, said, "We have essentially built a more sophisticated brain for an existing GE sensor that can tell whether someone is moving or motionless and whether an individual is breathing or not breathing. One of the most promising applications of this new technology could be in neonatal infant health monitoring. We have seen considerable interest from the medical community in having this type of wireless-sensing capability to monitor the well-being of infants under intensive care."

Ashe added, "GE's sensing technology could enable new applications in elder and outpatient care, as well by enabling remote monitoring of the health and well-being of a patient and loved one."

GE's wireless sensing research is all part of the company's Early Health Initiative, which is focused on enabling earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments of disease and other health-related issues. It is also focused on making care more patient focused by providing more opportunities to bring care to the patient. The hope is to spot symptoms or potential problems at earlier stages, perhaps even before the patient realizes a health issue exists. Having a sensing platform that can wirelessly track a person's vital signs in the home is just the kind of tool that can help create this type of care environment.

About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is one of the world's most diversified industrial research labs, providing innovative technology for all of GE's businesses. Global Research has been the cornerstone of GE technology for more than 100 years, developing breakthrough innovations in areas such as medical imaging, energy generation technology, jet engines, and lighting. GE Global Research is headquartered in Niskayuna, NY, and has facilities in Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; and Munich, Germany.

About GE
General Electric Co. is a diversified global infrastructure, finance, and media company built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation, and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.

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