Innovation Awards profile: Shimmer - Wearable wireless sensor
Shimmer: Wearable wireless sensor
A device which can monitor an individual’s location, their movements, and physiological data like their pulse rate may sound slightly frightening in a Big Brother sense but the Irish designed and developed Shimmer wearable wireless sensor offers considerable potential benefits, particularly for people’s health and wellbeing.
The device wirelessly communicates collected data in real-time to wherever it needs to go – a health clinic or a sports coach for example.
The device provides medical researchers, computer scientists and product development teams with a best-in-class vehicle for data capture that is robust, unobtrusive and ready to use right away.
One of the key advantages of Shimmer in the market is that it operates in a very open manner and provides open data to its users.
It is not restricted to any one area and can be used for any application where such data is applicable.
“We started out focusing on the digital health area and the provision of raw data to clinicians,” says Shimmer senior marketing executive Tom McMahon. “Over time we realised that the demand for data was much wider than that and we added other modules such as ECG for the heart, EMG for muscle response, and galvanic skin response sensing.”
The technology for the device was originally licensed from Shimmer’s parent company Realtime Technologies in 2006 with the first iterations of the product being developed in 2008.
“We are now shipping to more than 65 countries around the world,” says McMahon. “One of our key advantages is the fact that the device is so adaptable to user needs. That’s one of the fascinating things about what we do; the people who contact us wanting to do different things with the technology. There is one guy in Florida in the security industry who wants to use it to redesign the polygraph lie detector.”
In the healthcare sector it has applications in rehabilitation as well as in disease monitoring.
“The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston is one of the biggest rehabilitation centres in the US and they have partnered with us to use Shimmer,” continues McMahon. “Home physiotherapy is one area where it could be very important. For example, a patient recovering from knee surgery could wear it on their leg and it would record their muscle response and fatigue and other data and transmit it back to a physiotherapist in the hospital who could monitor their progress.”
That example has already become a reality through telephone company Telefonica.
McMahon says: “We are partnering with other companies and organisations to help them with product development. We helped Telefonica with the development of its Reabitic which is used by physiotherapy patients with the data sent back to the clinic over the company’s network. This has already been rolled out in Chile and in some locations in Spain.
“It’s all about being a collaborator; no one company can solve the whole piece. We provide the sensor expertise to companies like Telefonica.”