Fighting obesity with wireless networking

Monday, 24 December, 2007


Nordic Semiconductor ASA has announced that US wireless health monitoring company FitSense has standardised on its nRF2401A 2.4GHz transceivers in its wearable, coin-cell sensor powered ActiHealth BodyLAN system.

The system has proved reliable and accurate in field trials, prompting US healthcare and wellness program providers to employ the system to measure the activity levels of policy-holders. Individuals that achieve recommended daily activity levels receive reward incentives.

BodyLAN is a ULP wireless personal area network (PAN) that can control and respond to miniaturised health and wellness measurement sensors or actuators. ActiHealth is a network that provides a secure end-to-end data network that makes it easy for healthcare and wellness program providers to process personal health data and present the feedback to members. Activity sensors monitor activity parameters such as caloric burn, activity duration, distance and total number of steps.

In addition, the BodyLAN wireless protocol has been embedded within health devices including scales, blood pressure monitors and peak flow meters (FEV2 and FEV6). This wearable monitoring system provides timely motivational feedback encouraging change in personal behaviour. The user can view personal health data instantly during their daily routine.

Sensors upload their data automatically via a wireless transceiver with a range of 10 to 30 m. Collected data is uploaded to secure FitSense data servers via a wireless connection using a PC.

"We currently have around 25 pilot schemes with wellness and healthcare providers now reaching maturity," says Dave Monahan, VP of marketing and business development at FitSense. "As such, we confidently expect that the model of having healthcare and wellness organisations reward physical activity will become common among leading US and international providers.

"Obesity is on the rise and it brings with it serious and costly health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer," continues Monahan. "Numerous studies link inactivity to the increase in obesity. More recently, researchers have found that tracking activity with an activity monitor and a specific goal in place can greatly increase activity levels while reducing an individual's weight. This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in obesity levels over time."

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