Image of the CSIRO/HD Medical integrated device

The CSIRO/HD Medical integrated device

Wireless detection of the early signs of heart disease

Non-invasive heart monitoring technology invented and patented by CSIRO has been licensed to HD Medical Group Limited for further development.

  • 1 December 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011

CSIRO's invention has the potential for use in inexpensive preventive diagnostic products, aimed at identifying early signs of heart disease and so reducing the burden of heart problems on the medical system, and on the individuals and their families.

What CSIRO did

CSIRO's research in radio astronomy inspired a research team to develop expertise in radio signal processing.

A world leader in this field, the late Dr Jon Ables, began exploring the use of radio devices for remote monitoring of the elderly, especially for the detection of movements and falls.

The wave form generated by the scattered radio energy has similar characteristics to aortic pressure signals, indicating dynamic attributes of the heart.

Dr Ables took his idea even further, with the intention of sensing or measuring vital health signs. From his vision emerged radio-based technology with the potential to monitor heart performance, without probing inside the body.

The CSIRO team made a number of prototypes before licensing the technology to a specialist medical technology company for further evaluation.

Easy to use

Taking measurements with the CSIRO prototype is extremely simple.

For each subject the heart monitor, which is about the size of a mobile phone, is placed against the chest for a minute or two. The monitor emits very low power radio frequency energy, some of which is scattered by the chest wall and heart. Some of this scattered radio energy is picked up by the monitor.

The heart rhythm detected can then be displayed on standard digital display devices. The wave form generated by the scattered radio energy has similar characteristics to aortic pressure signals, indicating dynamic attributes of the heart.

More research

Researchers at Monash University, Victoria, Australia, are working with HD Medical Group Limited on a clinical validation of CSIRO's prototype. They are comparing the heart rhythms of subjects with heart failure, including valve dysfunction, with those from healthy subjects. The clinical evaluation is intended to verify which aspects of heart function can be measured with the monitor.

HD Medical Group Limited is currently considering an initial low-cost rollout in developing nations. Depending on the success of the clinical validation, initial export licence revenues for CSIRO are estimated at more than A$350 000.

Read more about CSIRO ICT Centre research.