10/10/2011

Plessey introduces EPIC sensors

Plessey Semiconductor has introduced a new sensor based on their Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) that be used for ECG (electrocardiogram) applications.

The sensors don't work in the same way as existing ECG systems in that they measure the electric field instead of the actual voltages, so the sensor can detect an ECG from 2 conductive sensors (say in each hand) rather than having multiple sensors attached to the body in various places to get a good signal (the current sensor pads are covered with gel and are not re-usable and cost about $2 a set). The EPIC system can use cleanable sensors so can be used continually.

The detection of electric fields is similar to magnetic field detection.

The sensor can detect as low as 1mV p-p.

Voltage in the atmosphere is around 100V per (vertical) metre and the human body being made up mainly of water can distort this field, therefore the sensor has other uses as it can detect people (moving or entering an area) even through walls.

If the system really works, it could have huge benefits for the health system and sensors could be incorporated into lots of devices like stretchers or even hospital beds.

The people detection applications would fall more into security and other services.
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