Start-up develops smart temperature monitor
March 19, 2019
Austrian start-up SteadySense has developed FemSense, a smart temperature measuring device for medical applications such as identifying fertile days when trying to have a baby or for patient monitoring in hospitals.
One key drawback of non-invasive intermittent temperature measurements is that sudden temperature increases – indicating an infection following an operation, for example – are not recorded. By contrast, FemSense allows continuous temperature checking for up to seven days.
PCB maker Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik (AT&S) was involved in the development process from the beginning, from the feasibility study to product development and production.
Apart from the circuit logic, the smart sensor comprises a temperature-sensitive integrated sensor. The thermometer patch is applied under the armpit and is activated using a smartphone. The patch measures and then continuously saves current body temperature values at specified time intervals. If required, measured values can be read out using an NFC-capable smartphone, then analysed and displayed in an app. The result is accurate, simple, continuous and discreet temperature measurement.
The first application for the patch focuses on calculating ovulation based on the user’s basal body temperature. The goal is to increase the chances of getting pregnant for women who are trying to conceive.
A correlation between the increase in body temperature and the time of ovulation has been known for almost 100 years. The innovation is that the patch measures temperature continuously and accurately. Unlike intermittent measurements, such as once a day, this allows a precise temperature curve to be calculated, increasing reliability.
The one-time use of the adhesive patch reduces infection risks. In addition to the sensor patch, SteadySense also provides the app and all interfaces to the central database. FemSense is an ISO 13485 certified medical product.
The patch is based on circuitry using a flexible PCB from AT&S that fits comfortably on the wearer’s body.
Flexible PCBs are in use throughout the electronics industry. The circuit board is generally installed bent, twisted or folded. Flexible PCBs can be used to create configurations and geometries – as in FemSense patches, for example – that would be impracticable with a rigid PCB.
The circuit board was assembled with the temperature sensor and a battery using surface-mount technology. AT&S not only developed the circuit board, it also assembled it with components using corresponding capacities and technologies in its Korean factory. The Korean plant specialises in flexible PCBs for the medical sector.
SteadySense is based in the Graz region. The company was formed in early 2016 and is ISO 13485 certified.
AT&S has production facilities in Austria and plants in India, China and South Korea. The company employs around 9600 people.