Hexagram Research-Creation Seminar on Self-Powered Wireless Biomedical Devices - June 6

Hi Laura,

Thanks for taking the time to share such a delightfully opinionated report.   As Maturana and Varela said at the beginning of their Tree of Life,  everything said is said by someone.     
It's characteristic of "design" not to ask framing questions to your depth.   It's interesting that Yong Lian used "simulations" rather than "experiment".   Had he used "experiment", qualified to characterize typical industrial drug research, then I may agree more.    Yong Lian's responses are very revealing: To say that TCM is "a closed system" expresses epistemic incommensurability.  To say that TCM has no theory reflects the inadequacy of western medical knowledge, which I always thought overwhelmingly un-theoretical compared against mathematics and physics.

Xin Wei

On 2011-06-07, at 12:10 AM, laura emelianoff wrote:

Hello lab and others,

I attended the talk on 'Wireless self-powered biomedical devices' today and wanted to share my notes. 
I tried to record but my Edirol ran out of battery power and was unable to get the whole talk. But I did capture at least a lengthy introduction outlining the speaker's achievements and academic positions held. 
I can share the file if anyone wants it.
Yong Lian Is a researcher developing self-powered devices for monitoring of biomedical data, such as heart activity and chemical levels. One such product was designed to report whether a patient had taken prescribed medication, in cases where the patient's memory was no longer reliable. It was an ingestible, powered by the acid in the stomach. 
Other biomedical interventions include pacemakers, cochlear implants, EEG sensors to detect seizures, and deep brain stimulation, used to treat Parkinsonian nervous disorders.
In general, his products (Wireless Biomedical Sensors, WBS) are intended to collect vital information and share it with medical staff via a mobile phone, for example. Dr. lian says that 'wireless healthcare is the solution' for prevention-oriented care- though he did not clearly address who should receive these prosthetics, we assume they are primarily intended for more extreme cases,  for those who are not capable of autonomous self-care.  However, he seemed very casual about using them to replace person-to-person examinations, so perhaps we should assume that everyone should have a few ECG or EEG sensor pods stuck here and there.

Why should biomedical products be self-powered? Currently, a patient with a pacemaker needs open-chest surgery every 8-10 years to replace the battery. As we are in movement all the time, we are capable of generating electricity through electromechanical, thermal, and chemical means. Batteries should no longer be used.

His main points were:
1. 'There are not enough doctors, and they are overworked. The problem is that 30% of med students are female, and they have kids and quit the workforce.' Constant ambient monitoring of biosignals will reduce diagnostic costs and time.
'Only the technology can reduce the workload of doctors'
2. Wireless is lucrative! Just look at the chart of the value of the US dollar, at point in the last century when key technologies were introduced (TV, mobile phone, internet, etc.) 
3. Current monitoring systems for biodata are invasive and cumbersome- a heart-rate monitor requires several electrodes and a mess of wires, while the autonomous devices are much smaller. 
4. Streamlining signal processing can improve energy efficiency- using an 'event-based' sampling instead of a Nyquist-style periodic sampling rate can reduce power usage. Data transmission can be sent in pulses instead of continuously, and fewer op-amps can be used in circuitry.

My first question was, which power harvesting methods are found to be most useful?
Answer: vibration is often effective, but we are exploring uses of 
glucose as a fuel.

Second question- there are so many hands-on techniques of listening to vital signs and movements: practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine palpate tissues and listen to the pulse, as it reveals metabolic functions, many doctors learn to listen to their patients' respiration and heart activity using stethoscopes (auscultation) and cranio-sacral therapists feel the tides of spinal fluids with their own hands. How do you regard these existing methods?
Answer: (quote) 'Traditional Chinese Medicine has no theory. It's a closed system, simulations are hard to do'…. 

meaning that TCM doesn't provide 'data'; perhaps it provides more qualitative information. 
But….  health and wellness is not just about data, it is more complex. 

My third question which I didn't get to ask was, How should we remedy this problem of female students going off and having kids, then quitting the workforce? Is that really why they are dropping out of school? What about the obvious gender inequality in certain disciplines, such as we have here in this lecture room- 25 men and 5 women from the Engineering department?

But there are many more questions- why continue to develop unilaterally, where this monitoring technology feeds the isolation of patients? Why is that acceptable? How long will it take to address problems like implant rejection? 
If prevention is really the focus, why not emphasize healthcare long before measures such as stents and pacemakers become necessary?
The proposed technologies are useful and effective, in the specific applications where they are really necessary, but there seems to be a lack of perspective about what is important in healthcare, beyond just life support systems…. One woman I know who regularly has epileptic seizures is alerted four hours ahead of time, when her dog and cat begin to follow her around the house. She doesn't need an implanted EEG sensor.

comments anyone?
Laura E

From: shaxinwei@gmail.com
Subject: Hexagram Research-Creation Seminar on Self-Powered Wireless Biomedical Devices - June 6
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 22:08:50 -0400
CC: memory-place@concordia.ca; artcrd@langate.gsu.edu
To: tml-active@concordia.ca

TMLabbers -- of possible interest to those who swear by bio-sensing, or would like to peek at the future of biopolitics -- docile mitochondria! :)  Will someone who can attend please send notes to tml-active?
Xin Wei

Begin forwarded message:

From: Momoko Allard <hexinfo@alcor.concordia.ca>
Date: May 20, 2011 10:56:08 AM EDT
To: Momoko Allard <hexinfo@alcor.concordia.ca>
Subject: Hexagram Research-Creation FW: Seminar on Self-Powered Wireless Biomedical Devices - June 6

-----Original Message-----
From: ENCS Communications <communications@encs.concordia.ca>
Subject: [All-ftfac-announce] Seminar on Self-Powered Wireless Biomedical Devices - June 6

Dear ENCS Members,

The following seminar may be of interest to you. This announcement is sent at the request of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering IEEE Circuits and Systems Montreal Chapter IEEE Montreal Section

Monday, June 6, 2011
6:00 p.m.
Room EV002.184
(Refreshments will be served.)

“Towards Self-Powered Wireless Biomedical Devices”

DEgr. (h.c.), FIEEE
Lutcher Brown Endowed Chaired Professor
The University of Texas
San Antonio, TX, USA

Body Sensor Network (BSN) combined with wearable/ingestible/injectable /implantable biomedical devices are envisaged to create next era of healthcare system. Such systems allow continuous or intermittent monitoring of physiological signals and are critical for the advancement of both the diagnosis as well as treatment. With the advances of nanotechnologies and integrated circuits, it is possible to build system-on-chip solutions for implantable or wearable wireless biomedical sensors. Such wireless biomedical sensors will benefit millions of patients needing constant monitoring of critical physiological signals anytime anywhere and help to improve the life quality. This talk will cover several topics related to the wireless biomedical sensors, especially on the development of self-powered wireless biomedical sensors and associated low power techniques. A design example of sub-mW wireless EEG sensor is discussed to illustrate the effectiveness of the low power techniques.

Dr. Yong Lian received the Ph.D degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering of National University of Singapore in 1994. He worked in industry for 10 years and joined NUS in 1996. Currently he is a Provost's Chair Professor and Area Director of Integrated Circuits and Embedded Systems in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests include biomedical circuits and systems and signal processing. Dr. Lian is the recipient of the 1996 IEEE CAS Society's Guillemin-Cauer Award for the best paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II, the 2008 Multimedia Communications Best Paper Award from the IEEE Communications Society for the paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, and many other awards.
Dr. Lian is the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II (TCAS-II), Steering Committee Member of the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems (TBioCAS), Chair of DSP Technical Committee of the IEEE Circuits and Systems (CAS) Society. He was the Vice President for Asia Pacific Region of the IEEE CAS Society from 2007 to 2008, Chair of the BioCAS Technical Committee of the IEEE CAS Society (2007-2009), the Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE CAS Society (2004- 2005). Dr. Lian is a Fellow of IEEE.

For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Wei-Ping Zhu
514-848-2424 ext. 4132