KarmelSonix Asthma Management Devices use Analog Devices' Technology for Disease Management


With the introduction of KarmelSonix's (Haifa, Israel) medical devices for asthma management, the Wholter™ and Wheezometer™, over 300 million asthma sufferers worldwide can breathe easier. Effective asthma assessment, a multivariable lung activity determination, must be both immediate and accurate for proper medical treatment to be administered. In the past, this level of instrumentation reliability only existed in spirometer technology, located in hospitals or physicians' offices, putting at home or in-transit asthma patients at risk.

To take this critical patient care from the institution to the home, KarmelSonix chose Analog Devices' high performance Blackfin digital signal processors (DSPs) and other ADI precision signal processing components for these devices to ensure that asthma suffers can obtain an accurate, reliable assessment of their "wheeze rate", a dynamic, and significant asthmatic attack indicator. Asthmatics can use these devices for early self-assessment of symptoms, which is essential for proper medication administration. According to KarmelSonix, ADI's established leadership in healthcare technologies and signal processing expertise fostered a 'full signal chain' perspective during the product's design phase. Blackfin's complex computation processing ability coupled with integrated RISC control operations, low power demand, small size and tight integration of peripherals gave the company the design edge to be pioneers in this technology.

Both the Wheezometer and the Wholter, considered "non-invasive acoustic technologies", provide different levels of asthma patient monitoring and data recording to assist doctors' diagnoses. Both products depend on ADI's Blackfin digital signal processors and other high performance ADI components for specialized acoustic signal acquisition, where acoustic markers are recorded using proprietary lung sensors and advanced signal processing techniques. Blackfins analyze the data acquired from the on-patient sensors using KarmelSonix's proprietary algorithms. The data's spectral content is then displayed on an easy to read graph.

High Performance Mobility

The Blackfin BF525-based Wheezometer, a hand held, self-assessment device, acquires data from sensors attached to the patient's body, then stores, processes and displays the "wheeze rate" level to the patient. The Wheezometer design team chose ADI products to satisfy the device's mobility criteria: power consumption as low as 0.26mW/MHz @ 250MHz for battery-operation, small footprint and, significantly, the ability to deliver a complete, competitively priced end-product solution. However, mobility was only part of the design goal, as medical technology pushes the performance standard higher by demanding institutional-caliber precision. For the Wheezometer, it was Blackfin's 600MHz of robust performance, integrated single chip DSP and control functions, and expansive peripheral set that led to the delivery of a medically acceptable level of performance. In addition, to keep the unit small and optimized, extensive firmware necessary to process large amounts of data was ported to the BF525's 64k of SRAM. In the design, KarmelSonix was able to make the Wheezometer device feature-rich with extensive peripheral connectivity by taking advantage of the BF525's interfaces, including SPI, SPORT, USB and serial ports, and to enhance the signal chain effectiveness, an ADI AD8608 low noise, quad rail-to-rail, I/O operational amplifier and the ADM708 voltage monitoring supervisory circuit. The Wholter, in addition to ADI voltage monitoring and amplifier components, utilized ADI's AD7656 6-channel, simultaneous sampling bipolar 16-Bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

Continuous Real Time Data Capture and Signal Processing

The Blackfin BF524-based Wholter is a 24 hour on-person monitoring device which monitors wheeze activity over an extended period of time. The Wholter records continual breathing effort and heart rate from two PPG (phonopneumography) sensors and then digitally stores the data on device flash memory for a 24 hour time period. After the recording period, the processed data is then uploaded to the physician's system for diagnosis. Blackfin's fast and accurate sensor-based reading is clinically critical for patients unable to cooperate with traditional breathing tests, such as babies and the elderly.

Improved Time to Market with Single Tool Development Environment

As with all innovation, time to market is a major driver of product success. By choosing Blackfin for integrated processing power, control functions and I/O connectivity, developers have maximum flexibility in design and implementation of their device. Here, KarmelSonix accelerated development by using Analog Devices VisualDSP++® integrated development environment. The evaluation board permitted a parallel coding of the software while the corresponding hardware was in production, greatly optimizing internal resources. Readily available ADI libraries helped with software testing and ultimately were flexible enough to include in the final design.

KarmelSonix continues to develop innovative and convenient technologies in the pulmonary and respiratory field and currently has four separate medical instrumentation projects with Analog Devices technology at the core. They attribute their design successes to Blackfin's performance, connectivity and, due to the additional integrated ADI signal processing components, the ability to have a single development environment, which significantly reduces development time and effort.

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