Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford researchers go from heaven to Earth in ’lifeguard’ test

16.06.2004


What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas for device’s inventors



Back in 2002, Stanford University engineers Kevin Montgomery, PhD, and Carsten Mundt, PhD, found themselves bored at a conference in Las Vegas. So they did what you’d expect from any researchers stuck in Sin City with frequent thoughts about life in outer space: They headed to a casino, downed a few cocktails and drew up a plan for the ideal physiological monitor for astronauts.

But here’s what you wouldn’t expect: The pair’s scheme has come to life, a result of a Stanford-NASA collaboration to develop the physiological monitor and test it in a gamut of extreme environments. If the device passes NASA muster next year, it will become part of astronauts’ wardrobes and will connect them to doctors who can monitor their health in real-time - something outside the realm of possibility given current NASA technology. Meanwhile, the team is using the device, called LifeGuard, to gather physiological data of use to the space program and is exploring terrestrial uses as well.


Today Montgomery, a researcher in the School of Medicine’s surgery department, is director of engineering at the Stanford University-NASA National Center for Space Biological Technologies, and Mundt, also a researcher in surgery, is the center’s chief hardware engineer. The center picks up where Montgomery and Mundt’s previous collaborations with NASA left off.

At the time of the Las Vegas conference, Montgomery and Mundt had created a personal physiological monitor demo for John Hines, manager of the astrobionics program at NASA Ames in nearby Mountain View. "We used the demo to help engineers at NASA Johnson Space Center start figuring out what they’d need for the astronauts. They could play with it and zero in on the requirements," said Montgomery.

Though similar devices existed, none provided the wearability and functionality NASA required. After Montgomery and Mundt received the go-ahead from Hines, the team built the system, designing it to relay astronauts’ physiological data to doctors on Earth and to withstand the wear and tear of use aboard the International Space Station.

The outcome was a computer about the size of an old-fashioned Walkman that straps on just above the wearer’s waist and a base station that can run on a tablet, laptop, desktop or pocket PC. The wearable computer, called the CPOD, takes in 2-lead ECG and respiration information from stick-on sensors. In addition, it detects temperature, body orientation and acceleration, pulse rate and blood oxygen level and supports a plug-in blood pressure monitor.

Once the device gathers the information, it can either stream or download it wirelessly to the base station, which then transmits the data over the Internet to any designated computer.

In February 2003, Greg Kovacs, MD, PhD, associate professor of electrical engineering, joined the testing effort and offered to wear it hiking and climbing. The hikes revealed glitches, electrode problems and provided feedback on comfort and ease of use.

"We learned: Don’t use electrodes that have very sticky electrode gel. That stuff comes off when you sweat," said Mundt, who took part in the climbs.

The most dramatic test so far put the equipment through an environment as close to extraterrestrial as possible. On that trip, the expedition members wore LifeGuard on a journey to the top of Licancabur volcano, on the border of Bolivia and Chile. It’s an environment that combines low-oxygen, low atmospheric pressure and high ultraviolet radiation. Once at the peak, the team leader tested the equipment in a yet more rigorous environment by jumping into a lake. At about 19,200 feet, it’s one of the planet’s highest. Kovacs also carried out the key mission for the LifeGuard team: live transmission of his vitals from a high-altitude, remote location to computers stationed in the Bay Area.

In March, four team members tested LifeGuard aboard NASA’s KC-135, a jet airplane that provides a taste of zero gravity by flying a roller-coaster-course trajectory. At the top of the arcs, the aircraft and its contents are weightless. "The CPODs worked beautifully," said Judy Swain, MD, professor and chair of Stanford’s Department of Medicine, who was part of the LifeGuard testing team.

Not only did the devices perform perfectly, they proved their value for monitoring astronauts with a variety of illnesses including space sickness, a combination of symptoms that occur in the weightless conditions of space flight.

The team feels confident that the device is ready for NASA’s assessment, which will probably take place next year. That’s great news for NASA’s Hines, whose goal is to develop the capability to provide medical monitoring of astronauts in space. "One day, hopefully, we’ll fly this technology to the Moon and maybe Mars," Hines said.

But the testing isn’t over. "We want to start looking at how it could be improved for other applications - not just space," said Montgomery.

And now that LifeGuard has proved itself, the device is in demand. Among the requests are several from NASA, including one to monitor astronauts during simulated spacewalks in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a huge 40-foot-deep pool of water at Johnson Space Center that astronauts use to get the hang of zero-gravity conditions.


The Stanford-NASA team has its own ideas for uses. Swain and Kovacs, who serve as principal investigators for the center, are planning to apply for grants to support several clinical trials: one that would use the device to help quantify the success of cardiac interventions and another that would use it to aid diagnosis of sleep disorders.

Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

| EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht New manufacturing process for SiC power devices opens market to more competition
14.09.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>