Prototype of first wearable 5-Channel ECG chip to monitor foetal heart rate and mobility

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Imec, the research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies – and Bloomlife – an imec spin-off – have unveiled a prototype of what is being claimed as the world’s first wearable 5-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) chip to continuously and accurately monitor foetal heart rate and mobility, two important indicators of a baby’s wellbeing.

This is a significant move as it is the first wearable ECG system that can accurately measure the fetal ECG as early as week 20 in a woman’s pregnancy.

Most wearable solutions are typically limited to tracking maternal health parameters, spot-checking or contraction monitoring and are not providing a real-time, continuous report of a baby’s wellness.

The BeatleIC chip, which leverages imec’s integrated circuit (IC) technology, is the only chip on the market that has all required characteristics to accurately track a foetus’ wellbeing indicators – such as heart rate and mobility – throughout the second half of a woman’s pregnancy. Existing chips either consume too much energy to be of any practical use in wearable solutions or are not capable of tracking the right foetal parameters.

The BeatleIC chip features a 5-channel ECG sensor to enable simultaneous recording of all perinatal health related signals; a low power consumption to enable long-term and continuous use (featuring a battery lifetime of approximately one week on a coin cell) and high accuracy to enable foetal ECG data acquisition at very low amplitude levels (between 3 and 15µV peak-peak)

Commenting Eric Dy, Co-Founder/CEO at Bloomlife said: “Our next step in bringing this technology to market includes a clinical trial to further validate the chip’s measurement results. And, ultimately, we plan to launch not only a consumer product – consisting of a sensor device integrated in a wearable patch and a smartphone application – but also a risk management platform that can be used by medically qualified staff. We are excited about the significant impact of these advancements as we continue to work towards our mission to bring much overdue innovation and solutions to help solve the biggest challenges in prenatal care, including preterm birth.”

The development of the BeatleIC was partially funded by the Flanders Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).