[ Work in progress ]
This bio-monitoring tool specifically designed for the academic research environment is a byproduct of the project "Physiological correlates of decision-making in social emergent behaviors.", a study developed as part of the thesis project for the master's program Cognitive Science and Interactive Media from the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. The study was centered in understanding the correlation between the affective state of individuals and their efficiency while making decisions in real-time in a social context.
In the current market, high-fidelity bio-monitoring products are usually aimed at specialized users, commonly from the medical sector; such products being developed by the private industry usually contain proprietary technology that prevents researchers from modifying and tweaking the data collection processes in the sensors or even getting the raw data from them. In addition to this, the high price of these specialized products presents a great obstacle when moving from pilot set-ups to large-scale studies. This is why after an exhaustive research and several tests I decided to develop a new low cost bio-monitoring modular tool specifically designed for the research environment.
Several iterations and tests helped defining an initial basic set-up for general processing, battery management and communication of the device, then, the device was adapted for the pilot study of the project previously mentioned. In this case, the device was modified and configured to collect electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate variability (HRV) and electrodermal activity (EDA) data from the subjects.
The current prototype manufactured for less than 80€ (10 times less than the nearest alternative) is 100% built with open-source hardware and its internal configuration is designed to incorporate other types of analog and digital sensors. The wireless device communicates via bluetooth and it is rechargeable thanks to an internal LiPo battery. The device is capable of capturing, recording and sending high resolution data in real time (more than 200 data entries per second). The outer shell of the device is made of a nylon-based polyamide (PA12) and translucent PLA using a combination of additive manufacturing technologies.
In addition to the device, an open source multi-platform graphical user interface was also developed to allow the researchers to record the data, select the device among multiple communication ports, insert basic information from the subjects and most importantly it allows researchers to visualize in real-time the data being captured by the device.
The device is currently going through a redesign phase in which a custom-made printed circuit board will be incorporated in order to improve the replicability of the device for a mid-scale production and its use on a full-scale academic study,