The 32-bit ColdFire microcontroller from Freescale can be incorporated with ECG software from Monebo.
Driven by increasing incidences of diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses, home-monitoring, home-therapy, and self-diagnostic equipment are more in demand than ever before. But for medical OEMs considering entering this growing market segment, the costs and risks can be formidable.
With OEM concerns in mind, Freescale Semiconductor Inc., a provider of microprocessors (MPUs) and microcontrollers (MCUs), has partnered with Monebo Technologies, a software developer for medical applications, to develop what the companies bill as the first-ever electrocardiogram (ECG)-on-a-chip. The technology can be configured to meet specific requirements, offering what the companies claim is unmatched flexibility and feasibility.
A trusted staple of hospital cardiology care, ECG systems record the rhythm of the heart over time to detect abnormalities. Software from Monebo, based on the company’s patented Kinetic ECG algorithm, enables an ECG device to produce online beat-by-beat output, to classify beats, to analyze up to 16 beats, and to detect arrhythmias, atrioventricular blocks, and pauses.
Teaming with Freescale allows Monebo to harness its algorithmic technology with hardware suitable for easy-to-use ECG monitoring tools. Freescale offers a range of MCUs and embedded MPUs, including an 8-bit HCSO8, 16-bit digital signal, and 32-bit ColdFire, all of which can be incorporated with any of Monebo’s six configurations of the Kinetic algorithm. “Prior to this offering, a software company wanting to build [an ECG-on-a-chip] would have had to find somebody to build the hardware, or a hardware provider would have had to find somebody to build the software—all of which takes a long time,” says David Niewolny, product marketing manager at Freescale. “With this arrangement, device manufacturers can pair any of our products with the Monebo technology and basically develop an optimized solution.”
In addition to scalability, the partnership could offer faster time to market. “Software validation can be a lengthy process, which is another advantage of using Monebo’s algorithm,” Niewolny says. “It already has FDA 510(k) clearance.” The ECG-on-a-chip technology has also been thoroughly tested and validated, according to the companies.
The firms’ initial targets for the ECG-on-a-chip technology are cardiac-event monitors, heart-rate monitors, and telemonitoring systems.
Freescale Semiconductor Inc., Austin, TX
Monebo Technologies, Austin, TX