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.