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When hearts beat faster – "Dr. beat" comes second at the INNOspace Masters

Our hearts skip skip a beat – at the INNOspace Masters 2019/2020, we earned an excellent second place! Every year, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt DLR) honors innovative concepts and ideas that master the challenges of aerospace or other industries through a transfer of technologies and know-how. Together with our partners DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH (DSI) and the Hanover Medical University (MHH) we submitted our "Dr. Beat" project to DLR. It bridges the gap between aerospace and medical engineering and allows to detect cardiological anomalies at an early stage. This year, more than 40 industry experts evaluated the submissions. Together with the finalists of four other challenges, we presented "Dr. Beat" in a virtual conference and award ceremony – and are thrilled about this success!

In zero gravity, the bodies of astronauts are exposed to enormous physical stress. Simply going to see a doctor when you feel unwell – impossible in space. Therefore, monitoring key physiological functions has always played an important role in aerospace. Ballistocardiography (BCG) analyzes various cardiac functions using cutting-edge digital microelectronics. It has its origins in zero gravity application but bears great potential in detecting cardiac diseases on earth. Not only are such disorders the most common cause of death worldwide, they are also very costly. Existing cardiac diagnostic systems only offer limited possibilities to monitor high-risk patients and can only be used in hospitals. Therefore, Dr. Beat uses BCG to apply the findings of space medicine to cardiac diagnostics and to detect cardiac anomalies on earth better and faster.

Cardiac monitoring with BCG

The aim of the project is to develop a cost-effective high-precision BCG sensory system together with our partners. It can be worn by patients as wearables or smart textiles, enabling the continuous monitoring of relevant parameters such as the closing of valves or filling volumes. The comprehensive signal and data processing and diagnostics functionalities will be automized using artificial intelligence (AI). The possible usage scenarios are manifold, reaching from emergency and long-term diagnostics to self-tracking all the way to preventive diagnostics.

News Innospace Masters Astronauten 935

Three partners, triple competence

A transfer of technologies and know-how requires years of experience as well as expertise in various disciplines. Together with our partners, we were able to merge different competences, successfully bridging the gap between aerospace and medical engineering:

  • UID: concept development from the prototype to the medical application, data visualization, user studies
  • MHH: university research and collection of relevant medical data
  • DSI: development of sensor and analysis software

Looking ahead

In addition to global network contacts, the winners receive technological assistance, helping to bring the project to life. In addition, Dr. Beat receives financial support, which we will mainly use in the coming months and years to further refine the usage scenarios, enhance the prototypes in clinical studies and use the gathered data to generate substantial added value for astronauts and high-risk patients on earth. At the same time, we are interested in taking up talks with healthcare companies that aim to set new standards in cardiology using ballistocardiography.