The best development work of Tallinn University of Technology in 2020 was the prototype of an innovative sensor created by the university's researchers that monitors lung function and heart rate and also the transfer of oxygen to tissues through the bloodstream.
The researchers were recognised for their work “Aordi tsentraalse vererõhukõvera mitteinvasiivne mõõtesensor” (The Noninvasive Measurement Sensor of Central Aortic Blood Pressure Waveform). For example, the sensor helps to monitor and treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and can be used to monitor the oxygen requirements of patients with respiratory problems and the associated changes in heart rate.
According to the Estonian Health Board, almost one-fifth of COVID-19 patients experience hypoxia, the most serious consequences of which are brain damage and death.
Mart Min, professor emeritus at the Seebeck Department of Electronics of Tallinn University of Technology, and his research group completed a prototype of an impedance-based wrist sensor that provides information on lung function as well as intake of oxygen, and heart rate. All these indicators are monitored simultaneously in real time.
“The advantage of this device is that, in addition to heart and lung function, you can see how much oxygen the human body absorbs. It can be measured at home, during patient transport, as well as during outpatient and clinical treatment. The wrist sensor enables the possibility to detect initial symptoms of a disease, monitor the course of the disease, provide alerts in the case of abnormalities and dangers, and give recommendations on changing treatment according to the current situation,” Professor Min explained. “The sensor provides information about the patient's oxygen needs at all times and these data can be used to control the respirator.”
In the autumn of 2020, initial experiments with patients were performed at the East Tallinn Central Hospital. They confirmed the expectations of the researchers and provided a perspective for continuing the work at a higher technological level.
A patent for the sensor is currently pending in the USA and after that we will apply for patents in Europe and China. “We have a prototype of the sensor and continue to develop the device. We want to start manufacturing the sensor as soon as possible right here in Estonia and the Estonian Electronics Industries Association has also promised to support it. We have agreed on cooperation with the East Tallinn Central Hospital and the Technology Development Centre ELIKO. The Sorbonne University and the company Bioserenity in Paris, as well as the Aachen University in Germany have also expressed interest in it,” Professor Min confirmed.
The research group of the development work included researcher and professor emeritus Mart Min, senior researcher Andrei Krivošei, researcher Marek Rist, researcher Margus Metshein, doctoral student and junior researcher Eiko Priidel, and visiting lecturer Jaan Ojarand of Tallinn University of Technology.