Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Aircraft makers look to monitor passenger health

Steve Rogerson
November 22, 2016

Two of the world’s top three aircraft manufacturers are testing a system that will monitor passengers’ and the crew’s health during the flight using technology developed by UK company Plessey.
The sensors will fit in the back of seats and monitor the occupant’s heart rate. For passengers, it could even be used to control the seat lighting, gently dimming the lights as the passenger drifts off to sleep.
Speaking at this month’s Electronica show in Munich, Paul Drosihn (pictured), product head at Plessey, said: “They are looking at weaving them into seats, and these can be retrofitted.”
They can also be used in a similar way for automotive and a demonstration was held in September at the Paris Motor Show.
“Your heart rhythm is unique, more so than finger prints, so they could also be used for driver identification,” said Drosihn. “On aircraft, we are deep in discussions with two of the major aircraft makers. We are also talking with car makers, though here we will focus on the aftermarket. Most driver alert systems use a camera system. That can’t help if they have already fallen asleep. But when you start to fall asleep, your heart rate slows and, more importantly, becomes extremely regular. That can give an advance indication.”
The first application though for the sensor technology will be a simple device for installing in pharmacies and doctor surgeries in which a patient will put two thumbs on the sensor and it will quickly do a pre-screen to see if the person is having a heart attack.
This is in the final stages of medical CE approval, which is expected before the end of the year.
Called ImPulse, it is a lead-one capacitive ECG device that can detect atrial fibrillation. The patient places their thumbs on the two sensors allowing a lead one rhythm strip to be taken quickly without the need to undress.
Plessey’s Epic sensor technology allows the trace to be collected without skin preparation or the use of sticky electrodes and conductive gel. The software lets the clinician view, save and review the ECG.