OPE Journal

MOBILITY & SMART LIVING 8 No 38 | March 2022 | OPE journal Printed electronics for the health care sector: a real-life business case Belgian based Quad Industries, together with the Dutch company, Mentech, have developed an electrode patch to measure skin conductance on the foot of a client with a severe intellectual disability. By measuring skin conductance, which is a key parameter for stress detection, healthcare workers can be notified automatically when a client is getting stressed. The new electrode patch was developed in collaboration with Mentech and supported by the SmartEEs programme of the European Union The development of the new smart patch was initiated by Mentech. Since 2016, this Dutch company is developing HUME, a streaming software platform for real-time stress detection, based on physiological signals and artificial intel- ligence models. Detecting early stress signals to avoid patient anxiety “The sensors measure physiological characteristics such as heart rate, skin conduction and activity,” explains Reon Smits, CTO and co-owner of Mentech. All these parameters are key indicators of stress and emotion. This information is converted into usable information in the HUME-platform by means of behavioural models. These models have been devel- oped with data from a group of respond- ents we analysed in our HUME-lab.” “People with a severe intellectual dis- ability or late-stage dementia often can- not express their emotions with words or gestures, which in turn can lead to misunderstood behaviour, stress, anxiety and negative emotions. To help these people and their healthcare workers, the HUME detects physiological stress symptoms and notifies healthcare staff at an early stage. That way they can avoid patient anxiety and escalation, increasing the quality of life of intellectually disabled persons.” Need for an improved detection system In the past, Mentech used wrist bands and smart watches from different manu- facturers to measure skin conductivity for stress level detection. For the specific client group of severe intellectually disabled persons, a device worn at the wrist is not a viable solution. Often, these people do not understand why they must wear the device and could they take it off or even break it. “On top of that we were very dependent on third parties which led to all kinds of technical problems,” says Smits. “The software integration was often difficult and necessary updates got delayed for a long time.” The ECG chest patch is more comfortable than conventional chest bands