Dec 292010
 
An aerial view of Antarctica. Weddell Sea is t...
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Wearable health monitors have been available for some time, providing feedback on functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.

They represent the tip of a potentially huge health and fitness market, from athletes and emergency services personnel to patients both in and recently discharged from hospital, who could benefit from real-time, intelligent wireless body monitoring of vital signs. Telemetry technology provider Toumaz has developed an ultra-low power system to wirelessly monitor heart rate, ECG, temperature and physical activity. The Sensium Life Platform has just been used to monitor the health of team members during a record-breaking 4,000-kilometer (2,485-mile) transantarctic expedition that not only made the fastest vehicle crossing of the Antarctic, but was also the first expedition to use biofuels extensively in Antarctica, and featured the first bio-fuelled vehicle ever to reach the South Pole.

Team leader for the expedition’s science program was Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, CEO of expedition sponsor Toumaz and also director of theWinston Wong Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology at Imperial College London.

The ten-man team, billed as “A team of ordinary men with regular jobs,” was continuously monitored via small Sensium-based devices worn on the chest that allowed full movement. The devices wirelessly collected and processed data on the physical effects of -40C (-40F) temperatures, including ECG, heart rate, physical activity and other indicators of stress.

The data was transmitted in real-time to computers in the expedition’s mobile laboratories and also sent via satellite phone to researchers back at Imperial College London for further analysis.

Conditions in Antarctica – the coldest, windiest, driest place on Earth – were the worst in 18 years, but the Sensium devices met the challenge, providing data on physiological responses that reportedly hadn’t been possible before.

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