Design of Affordable and Ruggedized Biomedical Devices Using Virtual Instrumentation

Ryan Mathern, Sarah Schopman, Kyle Kalchthaler, Khanjan Mehta and Peter Butler

Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology

Mathern, R., Schopman, S., Kalchthaler, K., Mehta, K., Butler, P., Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, Vol 37, No. 4,pp. 237-251, “Design of Affordable and Ruggedized Biomedical Devices Using Virtual Instrumentation,”  2013


This paper presents the designs of four low-cost and ruggedized biomedical devices, including a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, weighing scale and spirometer, designed for the East African context. The design constraints included a mass-production price point of $10, accuracy and precision comparable to commercial devices and ruggedness to function effectively in the harsh environment of East Africa. The blood pressure device, thermometer and weighing scale were field-tested in Kenya and each recorded data within 6% error of the measurements from commercial devices and withstood the adverse climate and rough handling. The spirometer functioned according to specifications, but a re-design is needed to improve operability and usability by patients. This article demonstrates the feasibility of designing and commercializing virtual instrumentation-based biomedical devices in resource-constrained environments through context-driven design. The next steps for the devices include designing them such that they can be more easily manufactured, use standardized materials, are easily calibrated in the field and have more user-friendly software programs that can be updated remotely.


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