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Imec has revealed a new prototype of a wearable 5-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) chip. The Leuven-based technology and innovation hub developed this first-of-its-kind ECG solution, known as BeatleIC, together with its spin-off, Bloomlife (link in Dutch), located in San Francisco and Genk, Belgium. The chip was purposefully built to monitor unborn babies.
The new system comes to market as an avenue for at-home monitoring and can effectively produce fetal ECGs as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy. While most wearable solutions are limited, tracking only the mother’s well-being, this innovation is specifically for the continuous and real-time reporting of fetal heartrates and mobility, two important indicators in a baby’s health.
Building upon Imec’s integrated circuit expertise, the BeatleIC allows for the simultaneous recording of all perinatal health-related signals. It also boasts a low power consumption, enabling long-term use – featuring a battery life of about one week on a coin cell. Furthermore, the wearable system allows for highly accurate fetal ECG data acquisition, at very low amplitude levels between 3 and 15 µV, peak to peak.
“Our next step in bringing this technology to market includes a clinical trial to further validate the chip’s measurement results,” says Eric Dy, co-founder and CEO at Bloomlife. “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.”