ULIMPIA has created the smart, wearable ultrasound patch for diagnosis and health monitoring at home, using an open platform approach.
Faced with aging populations and rising chronic disease, healthcare systems worldwide are looking for solutions to improve care and limit costs. ULIMPIA aimed to address these needs by developing point-of care monitoring and diagnostic solutions that enable affordable continuous on-body monitoring and empower patients to better manage their health at home.
ULIMPIA’s MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems)-based technology can continuously monitor and diagnose processes under the skin or even deep within the body, such as blood pressure or bladder function. So, more patients can stay at home, reducing hospital costs. In addition, ULIMPIA’S open platform allows other developers to create new applications for the growing consumer healthcare market.
Ultrasound-based continuous on-body monitoring is a major technological breakthrough from the Ulimpia project. Project partners have developed and prototyped a 2D version of the ULIMPIA ultrasound module including a front-end ASIC and supporting FPGA. Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) provided connectivity to back-end applications. The battery-powered patch platform was implemented in various demonstrators with sensors and interconnectors, showing the potential of the modular approach and innovations such as gel-free contact with the skin. Specially created 20-30 multifilament yarns with silver coating were integrated into the demonstrators together with a purpose-designed interposer housing.
The partners assessed a smart comfort patch to measure human body heat generation,successfully measured blood pressure, comparing the performance of two emerging technologies: CMUT and PMUT. An unforeseen application arose – COVID testing. This use case provided an early indicator of the value of the project’s open approach.
Societal & Economic Impact
With an ageing population and rising rates of chronic diseases such as cardiac vascular diseases (CVD), obesity, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Europe alone is facing significant increases in healthcare costs – from USD 383 billion in 2016 to an expected USD 425 billion in 20252 . The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased these pressures. It is these demands that are driving the shift towards more home-based care; lower-cost diagnostics that need less professional involvement; personalized therapies; and payments based on cure and prevention, rather than simply treatment. ULIMPIA has contributed to potential solutions by opening the way to relatively low-cost, massproducible, portable and wearable ultrasound devices that support the needs of both patients and healthcare systems.
ULIMPIA’s results address growing global trends. Personal/portable ultrasound technology is emerging, with early market entrants demonstrating systems using Edge AI and cloud-based services. There are moves towards the decentralization of healthcare, personalized therapies and individualized, selfadministered diagnostics. COVID-19 accelerated these trends, increasing demand for smart, low-cost healthcare devices for easy use at home. The market for medical wearables is predicted to grow by a CAGR of 40%1. By bringing ultrasound to this market, ULIMPIA is expected to drive high production volumesand fuel further innovation in MEMS technologies to reinforce Europe’s strength in professional ultrasound diagnostics. As MEMS-based ultrasound matures it will compete with current more expensive technologies, creating market opportunities for low power, reduced data rate wearable ultrasound devices driven by AI algorithms that interpret data without the need for a medical specialist.
To read the full project impact summary, please click here.
PENTA is a Eureka Network Cluster operated by AENEAS.