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

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.

  • ThingWorx (PTC)
    The ThingWorx IoT Technology Platform. One Platform. Limitless Possibilities. ThingWorx is the only enterprise-ready technology platform that enables innovators to rapidly develop and deploy smart, connected solutions for the Internet of Things. Build Fast Connectivity and development tools made for IoT enable developers to quickly create, test and deploy solutions faster than ever thought possible. Build Smart Integrated capabilities of the platform enable developers to create more feature-rich solutions in a fraction of the time of other platforms. Build for Enterprises Developers quickly and easily create IoT solutions that are scalable, secure, and meet the needs of the largest of enterprises.
  • Equipment & Machinery
  • Product Development
  • 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. To get a free demo of ThingWorx 8:

  • Alarms For Automated Applications, Electronic Medical Record, Health Parameters, Health Symptoms, Personal Medical
  • Emerging (technology has been on the market for > 2 years)
  • Impact #1
    [Efficiency Improvement - Time To Market]
    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.
    Impact #2
    Impact #3
  • Process Control & Optimization
    Process control and optimization (PCO) is the discipline of adjusting a process to maintain or optimize a specified set of parameters without violating process constraints. The PCO market is being driven by rising demand for energy-efficient production processes, safety and security concerns, and the development of IoT systems that can reliably predict process deviations. Fundamentally, there are three parameters that can be adjusted to affect optimal performance. - Equipment optimization: The first step is to verify that the existing equipment is being used to its fullest advantage by examining operating data to identify equipment bottlenecks. - Operating procedures: Operating procedures may vary widely from person-to-person or from shift-to-shift. Automation of the plant can help significantly. But automation will be of no help if the operators take control and run the plant in manual. - Control optimization: In a typical processing plant, such as a chemical plant or oil refinery, there are hundreds or even thousands of control loops. Each control loop is responsible for controlling one part of the process, such as maintaining a temperature, level, or flow. If the control loop is not properly designed and tuned, the process runs below its optimum. The process will be more expensive to operate, and equipment will wear out prematurely. For each control loop to run optimally, identification of sensor, valve, and tuning problems is important. It has been well documented that over 35% of control loops typically have problems. The process of continuously monitoring and optimizing the entire plant is sometimes called performance supervision.
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