Professor Y.T. Zhang speaks about the future of wearable medical devices.
IEEE tv: Why all the excitement over wearable medical devices?
YT Zhang: The wearable medical devices are getting hotter and hotter these days, and one of the reasons I’ve seen is that the leading companies are starting to look into transitioning to mobile applications using a wearable device. A recent development you may have heard about for medical devices is US National Institute of Bio[medical] Imaging and Bioengineering – NIBIB announced a new grant application related to unobtrusive blood pressure measurement. That sends a strong message to society that blood pressure, in particular, an unobtrusive approach, will be developed very soon, in the next few years. We know the blood pressure measurement, of all diagnosis, is very important, and is old technology. The cuff has been there for over 100 years. More recently development people looking for a breakthrough are using a cuff-less approach, and continuous monitoring, overnight monitoring. This is very important for chronic cardio-vascular disease, hypertension control, and will play a very important roll for that.
IEEE tv: What are the greatest challenges to developing wearable medical devices?
YT Zhang: In my personal opinion, I still feel the unobtrusive needs [are challenging]. When you make a something larger or bigger, accuracy can be reasonable. But once you put a very small and continuous monitor [in place] it becomes a big challenge how to make the small, unobtrusive approach. It’s a very big challenge. Basically, in the future, we’re trying to collect the data, the physiological data, without disturbing the daily life of the users, and that’s a very big challenge. On one side we need to make sure of the accuracy, and on the other side you don’t want to disturb the daily activity. And, because dynamic movements cause lots of trouble for wearable devices, and to overcome those motion artifacts, and to get the accuracy as good as we have with the portable device, is a very, very big challenge.
Yuan-Ting Zhang is currently the Director of Joint Research Center for Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Hong Kong, China. He serves concurrently the Director of the Key Lab for Health Informatics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (HICAS) at SIAT, Shenzhen, China. He is the founder and the first Director of the SIAT Institute of Biomedical and Health Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research spans several fields including wearable medical devices, flexible biosensors, BSN security, neuro-physiological modeling, CVD health informatics, and m-u-p-Heath technologies. Read more