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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M009262/1
Title: Moving the mountain: Non-conventional human body monitoring to enable energy harvester powered systems
Principal Investigator: Casson, Dr AJ
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 April 2015 Ends: 30 September 2016 Value (£): 100,449
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Digital Signal Processing RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Sep 2014 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel - Sept 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Wearable sensors are highly miniaturised electronic devices that are easily placed on the human body and can conveniently monitor a range of body parameters, facilitate diagnosis of diseases, and even automatically raise alarms to summon help in critical situations. They are quickly emerging as next generation devices for the prolonged monitoring of the human body and have substantial impacts for managing our ageing population: both in terms of automatic monitoring and alarm generation in older subjects; and in promoting proactive and preventative healthcare and exercise in younger subjects. However, delivering new sensors, enhancing their functionality, and maintaining battery life as we incorporate more power hungry complex electronics is a major engineering challenge.

To resolve this it is crucial that future devices include energy harvesting: here the batteries present are supplemented by using the intrinsic energy available in the environment to power the sensor. As a result, energy harvesting is the only method for creating sensors which are power autonomous and can go beyond the limited lifetimes provided by batteries. However, state-of-the-art miniature energy harvesters which are suitable for wearing on the human body can only provide very small amounts of output power. To realise the full potential benefits from these it is necessary to devise new techniques for closing the current gap between the power required by wearable sensors and the power provided by miniature energy harvesters.

This project will bridge this gap by performing human body monitoring in non-conventional places on the body. Current approaches place the energy harvester where the wanted physiological signal is strongest; this project will devise techniques to move the physiological monitoring to where the most power can be harvested. Measuring physiological parameters in non-conventional locations on the body, such as the arms and legs, means the signals are weaker and more prone to interference from artefacts due to motion. It also means that substantially more energy is available for harvesting and to power both the sensor and the signal processing required to correct for the presence of artefacts.

The research will investigate these new trade-offs that are available as wearable sensors begin to include energy harvesters. In particular it will establish the trade-off between: physiological signal strength, motion artefact corruption of the collected signal, and energy harvesting potential. This will involve collecting physiological data from non-conventional places on the body and creating digital signal processing approaches for analysing the signals and dealing with the new motion artefacts compared to conventional monitoring. The successful outcomes will contribute to our knowledge on digital signal processing and enhance our ability to create self-powered sensors that can perform complex signal processing. This will provide major benefits to future wearable sensors, to personalised and preventative healthcare, and to our ability to tackle the healthcare, societal, and personal implications of the UK's ageing population.

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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk