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Industrial Internet of Things

Furtwangen University develops “IoT Walker” and “IoT Wheelchair” using PTC

Furtwangen University develops “IoT Walker” and “IoT Wheelchair” using PTC

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Recent studies have found that patients return to the hospital at an alarmingly high rate among those who are hospitalized for heart failure, almost one in four are re-hospitalized within 30 days. Such a focus has led to novel approaches to improve patient care and reduce the need for re-hospitalization. Many of these strategies depend on technologies that employ remote patient monitoring (RPM), using the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, so that their health care team can track their progress without needing them to come to the office.

At the Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) in Germany, students across multiple disciplines are working to develop this RPM technology into mechanical devices to aid in monitoring patients remotely. Their idea is to utilize the Internet of Things to develop “smart” wheelchairs and walkers that will transmit patient information to a dashboard developed in PTC’s ThingWorx to monitor various parameters and develop alarms specific to each patient.

Achim Bumüller, Senior Assistant in the Mechanical and Medical Engineering Department, is managing the project along with five other faculty members dedicated to each discipline such as electronics, informatics, and mechanical engineering. “Since our university is located in the Black Forest of Germany in Baden-Württemberg, the project was originally developed due to the need for remote monitoring in the small villages that are 20-30 kilometers from their nearest doctor or hospital; however, the target has grown to include the necessity of monitoring patients inside a hospital, nursing home or other areas,” states Bumüller.
Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) in Germany
The “IoT Wheelchair” and the “IoT Walker” as they are called by the university, are being developed to include a Raspberry Pi® microprocessor that will connect to the cloud and thus to PTC’s ThingWorx- an application development platform for the IoT. The parameters that Bumüller and his students will be tracking on the walker and wheelchair with this technology include but aren’t limited to:
• Pulse rate and oxygen saturation
• Blood pressure
• State control (motion & position)
• Body temperature
• GPS position control
• RFID sensor

The parameters would then be individualized in ThingWorx per patient by the RFID sensor. For example, if a patient has a heart issue, their pulse rate may need to stay under a certain threshold versus a patient without a heart issue, thus their pulse rate alarm setting to the doctor may be set lower. Another example may be that a patient recently had bariatric surgery that may require them to walk every few hours using
their “IoT walker” to prevent blood clots. The state control sensor would alert the doctor if the patient hasn’t moved the “IoT walker” in the allotted time or send a friendly reminder to the patient of their medical protocol.

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Emerging (technology has been on the market for >2 years)
State control sensor data may deem useful for monitoring falls of patients that are home alone, especially considering that one out of three older adults (ages 65 or older) fall each year, which is the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
The IoT ONE Radar indicates the mix of hardware, software and services used in an IoT solution.
Hardware that enables dual directional communication for data collection and control message delivery. Examples include cellular, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi.
Sensors transform energy into electrical data; they are the eyes and ears of IoT. Actuators transform electrical data into energy; they are the muscle of IoT.
Products used by end users that contain IoT technologies. Examples include enabled equipment, wearables, hand-held scanners, and tracking devices.
Horizontal applications are standardized (e.g., asset tracking). Vertical applications are tailored to specific needs (e.g., delivery fleet management).
IoT analytics includes real-time or edge computing and batch analysis. Analytics can be behavioral, descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive.
IoT data management consultancies help to make sense of big data, decide which data to maintain and for how long, and troubleshoot IT issues.
IoT hardware consultancies provide services such as solution specification, product design, connectivity setup, and partner identification.
IoT software consultancies support the development of data analytics, visualization solutions, and platforms, as well as integration into embedded systems.
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